Why Nigel Owens' exchange with Chris Robshaw is not a good advert for the game
The internet is awash with talk of how fabulous Nigel Owens' dismissing of Chris Robshaw from his presence with his, "errr, Christopher..", but as much as we can all have a bit of a giggle at it, is it really such a good advert for the game? Perhaps not.
Nigel Owens is the best referee in the world, no question. When he has the whistle, his unpedantic and empathetic style of officiating blends together the mix of the demands of the players, fans and laws to create the best games for all. However, his tone when speaking with players is sometimes unnecessary, as was the case with Robshaw.
In this episode Chris Robshaw was attempting to query the referee as is his right as captain, received an answer, queried again before the ref then decided that the conversation should be over. All of which is absolutely what everyone involved in rugby would expect to happen and if Nigel has said something along the lines of, "Chis, you've made your point, I've made my decision" then this would have been the perfect example of what good game rugby is: participants respecting each other and giving and taking a telling politely. With thea condescending schoolmaster-cum-impatient parent tone and the use of his full given name, Owens treated Robshaw like a child and it's hard to be sure which part of the Rugby Values Manual that 'infantilising players' is in.
Raising this leads many to get into a bit of a moral panic that if the players are not shut down then "we'll end up like football", which is akin to a hate crime in the mind of many fans. But this is not the case of a straight choice between letting referees condescend to players or having a free for all like soccer; there has to be a discussion allowed about how we want both sides of the ref/player interaction to operate. This neither a suggestion that players should not do as they are told, but more the way and most importantly the tone in which the telling is done. Respect goes both ways.
Chris Robshaw is a grown man, captain of his country and a respectful and respected player. It is hard to see how a viral video of him being treated like a naughty toddler for attempting to politely do his job on the field is a good advert for the game we all love.
RBS 6 Nations: SHIT Team Of The Tournament
15. Scott Spedding - Imagine if Pixar had designed a character Inexplicable Man whose super power was being crap at everything.
14. Dougie Fife - Seeing Fife helps you understand why Sean Lamont has so many caps.
13. Luca Morisi - Looks a find, but tailed off horribly in last weeks of the tournament
12. Luther Burrell - For all the decent stuff at the beginning, what is becoming clear is that he appears neither quick enough nor clever enough.
11. Giovambattista Venditti - Imagine if Inexplicable Man had a sidekick called Large Mess.
RBS 6 Nations: GOOD Team Of The Tournament
15. Stuart Hogg - After a strange season last year, the Scottish fullback is back to the player he showed flashes of. Given that his team were for the most part so bad they made you want to weep acid his performance was even more remarkable.
14. Tommy Bowe - This was not a tournament for wingers, so selecting two for this team is not unlike selecting the best sidestepper from a Summer Prop's Camp, but Bowe showed some of the class that makes him that bit better than many.
13. Jonathan Joseph - A creative centre with Saturday Night Fever feet. England will no doubt find a way to turn him into Jamie Noon by 2017.
12. Robbie Henshaw - Tough on Jamie Roberts this, but Henshaw had a few more telling contributions and a better all round game.
11. Liam Williams - Terrible facial hair, legs like a bent wire coathanger, runs like Mr Soft, but an outstanding, natural rugby player.
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: RBS 6 Nations, Round 5
The final weekend of the tournament led to much data for the computer to process, but the output is clear as ever. The S/G Ratings are of course not definitive, and the computer often leaves out MoM recipients as they are covered on many other sites, so if you want to throw your nominees in then please use the comments.
James Haskell - How many times do we have to go though this before this hideous selection mistake is consigned the the SHITbucket Of History? Knocked on more regularly that a 14 year old with wanker's cramp, was not particularly physical (his stong point, apparently) and then did a WWE/Christophe Dominici flying leg-scissors and got himself binned. And that's before we even get into the issue that his inability to pop pass properly vs Scotland meant that England didn't win the championship. Please, please, please, please stop this madness now. Please.
Scotland - Often it looks like Scotland are a half-decent side lying dormant within some poor decision making in key moments. This weekend they looked like a terrible side hidden within an even more terrible one. Had one job at the weekend, to not be SHIT. They failed.
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SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: RBS 6 Nations, Round 4
The computer apologises for the delay in delivering this week's analysis, but some malware meant that there was a spectacular amount of processing time spent in a spurious attempt to fathom Andy Nicol and running an algorithm to try to figure out where to buy rugby world cup tickets.
Dougie Fife - When you see how the likes of Fife play, it suddenly becomes clear why Sean Lamont has so many caps, it could be that he's the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind wingers who can't tackle
Jonny Sexton - This was classic 2011 Sexton; all the talent, all the ability, all the fragility of wet tissue paper stretched across Jacques Fourie's arse.
RBS 6 Nations Preview: Wales vs Ireland, Cardiff, Sat 14:30
Many people are touting this as the Championship decider, it's not, whatever the result here Ireland are going to win the Championship as even a Wales win is unlikely to be by enough points to trouble Ireland's points difference going into the final weekend when they will undoubtedly beat Scotland handily. How Wales must wish they actually turned up for that second half vs England.But, having said all that, it doesn't mean there is not a lot riding on it. Wales and Ireland don't like each other very much for a start, all that celtic brotherhood stood is well gone, if it ever even existed, and it should be humdinger.
RBS 6 Nations Preview: England vs Scotland, Twickenham, Sat 17:00
Both of these teams lost a fortnight ago, albeit in different circumstances - Scotland suffered last minute heartbreak vs Italy; England instead had a soul-stultifying, playing like crap most minutes issue vs Ireland. So what's in store this week?
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: RBS 6 Nations, Round 3
The Six Nations is back after the break and the computer is back from being de-fragged by Franck Tournaire's gouging finger.
James Haskell - NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED KLAXON! The computer knew this would happen and did not at all have cold sweats in the early hours when thinking of it not happening. Haskell's physicality is much admired, but being unable to apply it in any consistently effective way has always been his problem. And so it came to pass...
Ben Youngs - With England taking such a forward pounding and an inexperienced backline it was not unreasonable to expect that the forty-plus caps man could bring a modicum of composure to the limited possession. Or maybe it was, given what happened.
Wesley Fofana - Completely anonymous again. Waxing about his ability is proving increasingly strange when he's playing so very very poorly.
Anthem Fetishism can start to border on Anthem Fascism
This photo has been doing the rounds a lot this week, with people using it as an example of how great rugby is compared to football, because rugby players and now the mascots it seems "belt out the anthem", unlike those scurvy traitorous footballers. It's basically anthem fetishism or perhaps anthem fascism: it says, "sing loud or be judged unworthy of your nationality".
Now, that young lad at Twickenham looks like he's loving every minute of that, and why shouldn't he? And this blog has nothing against people who want to sing God Save The Queen. What is a problem is the expectation that it must be sung and the regular insinuation that those who don't sing it lack passion for the game and pride for their nation, which is cobblers.
Many people are proud to be English for many reasons; their attachment to a certain region or city, links to the armed forces, the sense of humour, the sense of fair play, that we are an inclusive society, and yes, perhaps the royal family.
Many however do not like the royal family, or certainly see them as an irrelevance that has little to do with the pride you feel in your nationality. These people don't really fancy bellowing like a lunatic of the glory of a rich family in a big house as a way of expressing passion and love for the country. Photos like this one and their associated social media campaigns serve to make such people feel less worthy to be English and somehow not doing some form of duty and letting the side down. This is not on.
There is also the more practical issue to consider in that displaying such passion in song does not translate to decent performances on the pitch anyway. Consider the football World Cup semi-final last year between hosts Brazil and Germany; Brazil's players sang their anthem with such gusto their eyes nearly popped out, passion oozing from every pore, it was wonderful stuff. Then they went five nil down within half an hour.
So, please; sing the anthem, don't sing the anthem, up to you, but let's dispense with this notion that not singing a song about a multi-millionaire gentry family means that you don't love being English and want to do your best for your team and its fans.