Yachvili was brazen in the Amlin Final, but cheating is an integral part of Rugby
There have been many examples of blatant cheating down the rugby years. Neil Back's slap at the ball in the Heineken Cup final may stand out as the most infamous, but it is not an isolated incident, and that's leaving aside the many punches thrown over the years.
In last week's Amlin Cup final Dimitri Yachvili blatantly fouled his opposite number, it was missed by the official and Toulon were robbed of possession at a crucial moment. Was it blatant? Yes. Was it illegal? Yes. Does Yachvili deserve to be vilified? No.
We love our game for many reasons, uppermost is that there are certain standards that are expected on the field. These are so respected that officials or governing bodies generally do not need to enforce them. Talking back to a ref will bring a rebuke from your own team stronger than any from an official; injured players from either side are applauded off the field by both teams; and at the final whistle handshakes and tunnels are made without prompting to acknowledge mutual effort and respect.
On the flip side of this, cheap shots and violence were prevalent for a long time and everyone is glad that this is being addressed via the citing system, tougher sanctions and a shift in culture in the modern professional era. While this change is a welcome one, one thing that will never change about rugby is that cheating, or more specifically technical cheating, is a fundamental part of the game.
Every player in every position, from Llanmaes 3rds to the All Blacks, has deliberately infringed in their career. It might be blocking a runner, retreating slowly, putting hands in the ruck, holding a tackled player or running a lazy blocking scissors to name but a few, but whatever form it took it was deliberate abd intended to gain an advantage. Sometimes the ref pinged you but often he didn't.
Moreover, the best players in certain positions are defined by their superiorority in what commentators often call the "dark arts" - the palatable euphemism for technical fouling - with front row and openside being the most obvious examples. Richie McCaw is the best breakaway in the world because, among other things, he infringes to the advantage of his team without incurring the attention of the referee. However frustrating this might be for non-Kiwis, we would all love it and accept it if he was on our team.
Yachvili took a chance and got away with it, none of us can honestly say we would not have done the same. Twas ever thus, and I invite you all to tell us of the greatest cheat you got away with on the rugby field in the comments....Tweet
Like this this post? Why not like bloodandmud.com on facebook and tell your friends?