Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Few Things Football Can Learn From Rugby

The Rugby World Cup Final illustrated everything that can be good in sport, and shows football (again) how players, coaching staff and supporters should approach their game. Here are a few examples.

Be maganimous in defeat. Not a word appears to have been said by the England players or coaching staff about any injustice they might have been subject to, even when asked directly. Likewise of the South Africans. Only courteous and gentlemanly acknowledgement of their respective adversaries good performance. When the England coach was asked after the match if he thought the best team had won, he gave the perfect answer - "The best team always wins."

Accept the decision of the officials without question and move on.

Don't feign injury. After a South African player was deliberately pushed by an England player into an advertising hoarding which then meant he collided heavily with a substantial camera unit the South African saw in the body language of the English player that it was an impulsive, heat of moment incident and accepted his apology. The referee saw it the same way. No punishment, no histrionics, they all just got on with the game. If the same had happened in a game of football, the player, whether injured or not, would have stayed down and acted as dramatically as possible, probably being stretchered off the pitch for more dramatic effect.

When interviewed the supporters on both sides were, before and after the game, grateful to the hosts and courteous about the opposition. No segregation of opposing supporters in the crowd was needed - nor is it at any game of rugby.

Congratulations to South Africa. The best team won.

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