Times Sport editor John Hutchins offers his personal opinion on the events, topics and personalities in the world of sport.
WHAT a great sight it was to see England rugby international Danny Care, with a big grin on his face as he swan dived over the line for the final try in their 61-21 victory against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday – that is, of course, unless you are a Scotland supporter.
England had not only secured the Calcutta Cup over their ‘auld enemy’, retained the Six Nations’ crown but also matched the mighty New Zealand’s world record of 18 consecutive wins against international opposition. Although, it must be said, that England’s ‘cv’ does not include, so far, the world champions, the All Blacks, on that list, nevertheless victories against world-class opponents such as Australia, South Africa as well as top notch teams like Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France, are no mean feats — hard won. So, well done to England’s Aussie coach Eddie Jones and his triumphant team of Owen Farrell, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Jonathan Joseph et al. I hope they finish off the job with the ‘Grand Slam’ in Ireland in two weeks’ time and in doing so establish that ‘world record.’
Being a football fan – sometimes despairingly at times with the antics on and off the pitch — I think that those involved and following the round ball game can learn a lot from their oval ball cousins.
For example, in arguably a more physical and violent sport than football, rugby players always show a greater respect for officials, rarely ever arguing and never trying to influence their decisions — no matter what the stakes. I remember seeing a 2007 World Cup semi-final between England versus South Africa, when television showed endless videos of whether or not England’s Mark Cueto had a foot in touch when ‘scoring’ what would have been the winning try’. When the decision went against them, the England players simply shook their heads and went back to their starting positions ready for the referee to start the game. I can’t see Joey Barton, Roy Keane and Robbie Savage acting with such dignity in such a similar situation.
Off the field too, although patriotic and wanting their team to triumph, there are hardly any reported fights between rival fans, just high spirited ‘bon homie’ – even though, I’m sure, the alcohol consumption is probably just as high as their football counterparts!