Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Rugby League Biff

Well who would have thought a bit of biffo would have got the Rugby League world and beyond talking
so much. The Manly versus Melbourne game certainly did that and also brought out a lot of people talking a lot of "you know what". I have read with interest, every paper this week, plus listened to the radio and watched the news and footy shows etc and heard many good points but have also heard so much dribble from people who have no right to even make a comment due to not playing the game or even being involved in it.

Let me say this, I have not had one person, not one, say a negative comment about the fight. Now I come across a wide range of people in my job and in society in general, men and women and they all actually enjoyed watching it. My twin boys who play rugby league and are not thugs, couldn’t get enough of it and to be fair I enjoyed it too, so much so I had to have a cup of tea to calm myself down ;)

I had firstly better give my full opinion on the fight as I saw it and also who deserved what. Darcy Lussick started it and really it was over nothing and he saw fit to unleash a punch. He shouldn’t have done that but like most of the fight the punches wouldn’t have bruised a grape and most didn’t connect in any of the fights. I do have a problem with the cheap shot from Adam Blair and he should be suspended but not rubbed out for the season.

The next problem I believe was the referees; they should not have let Adam Blair go until Glenn Stewart was off the field. One paper wrongly reported that Blair ran after Stewart, this is false, he jogged off as most people do when they are sin binned, Stewart walked slower then a man with a wooden leg and Blair caught up to him. Now I am no professor but if one man is running and the other is walking, the running man will catch him. Again I have no problem with this because it was the referees stuff up and the send off should be sufficient. What didn’t need to happen were the five Manly players running a considerable distance to come over and attack Blair, in my eyes this is a dog act. It was one on one, two grown men having a fight and no need for any other person to interfere and really, did Blair and Stewart  expect to hit each other with there eyes closed!!

Now the Melbourne bench got involved and why wouldn’t they when one of their own team mates who they sweat blood with each and every week, is getting attacked by five Manly players.  I would be disappointed if they stood there and did nothing and allowed Blair to get beaten up. The blokes who ran in to start should also be suspended because they made it worse then what it already was, which wasn’t much at all. I am a big fan of both Adam Blair and Glenn Stewart and actually played against Adam when he was a young fella at the North’s Devils in the QLD Cup. I would hate to see these guys rubbed out of the finals series because of this.

I also want to say this that Rugby League is a gladiator sport and that’s why people love watching it and that’s why I and so many other people loved playing it. If there is one thing I miss being retired, is the contact part of the game, some people like it some don’t, but I certainly did. We are also talking here about 17 players on each side trying their hardest to win a game of football and to eventually win the greatest prize of all - the Premiership. And shock horror, believe it or not, tempers are sometimes going to fray and shock horror again there is going to be a fight. This is where I get the shits with the people who haven’t played at the highest level and haven’t trained their arses off like these athletes do today. They are going out every week to win a game of football and get over the top of their opposition and please their coach. It’s very hard to switch emotion off and testosterone levels are working over time as well.

This is also why players get the shits with referees at times because in the heat of the battle the referee makes a blunder or talks down to a players and it’s hard not to show frustration. I remember in a QLD Cup game I played in with Burleigh against North’s and Brett Suttor was the referee. It was a stinking hot day and both teams were going hell for leather and a scrum is packed and Brett in the arrogant tone that he used to speak to us, proceeded to tell us how to pack a scrum properly. Nothing gets a forward more riled then a referee doing that. I proceeded to ask Brett, whether he had packed his slightly frame into a few scrums. He then went onto to say he did at which that point both forward packs burst into laughter - funnily enough he didn’t see the funny side.

Sorry I digressed there, in reality there are very few fights at all compared to yesteryear in fact the last biggest fight like this was in the Cowboys v Warriors game a fair few years back, so it has been a long time between drinks so to speak. To also put the latest fight in perspective what happened, to Steve Price after he was knocked out last year in the State Of Origin, was by far much worse then what happened on Friday night yet that was brushed under the carpet.

Another column in a paper said there was a spate of mass brawls the next day after the Manly v Melbourne game, copy cat brawls I think was the wording. Please, do me a favour, how the hell would they know they are copy cat brawls, did they do a question and answer with the players from all of the teams after the game, I think not. I am going to let everyone in on a couple of little secrets here and please don’t tell anyone as I may be embarrassed. I watched the Greg Dowling and Kevin Tamati fight on TV and neither I nor my mates, went out on the footy field that weekend and had a fight before during or after the game. I know, I know I must be mentally tougher then people today. My second secret is, I had a few fights in my junior career and not one of them was because I saw something on TV and was trying to re-enact it was because in the heat of the battle you sometimes lose your cool and unless you have played the game you would not understand.

If your junior coach is a good coach he wont let you get away with doing cheap shots or fighting all of the time in games and for me along with the children’s parents, they are the key to all of this and not what you see on television. I have coached from Under 8's through to Super League in the UK and I very rarely see a fight and I have never heard anyone every say they started a fight because they saw someone else do it on television. Just because I see Chuck Norris knock 22 people out in a movie doesn’t mean I think I am Chuck Norris (Chuck Norris sets ants on fire with a magnifying glass - at night).

Brent Kite made a good point that if it’s that bad then stop showing it so much on television, which gives it more exposure. Now the newspapers and television stations aren’t stupid, they know by putting in the papers and on screen that it will get more viewers and readers respectively. It was mentioned on the Fox Sports show "The Back Page" that one of them was in a bar and the footy was on but people weren’t really watching it and then the fight came on and the whole bar was transfixed to the screens around the place.

I am not saying violence is the answer far from it but please, will the do gooders stop carrying on like it’s the end of the world and get over it - quickly. This is a great game and already people have tried to tone it down to the point that you can’t even give a bloke a facial anymore. Now I hope we don’t lose any sponsors over this and I very much doubt it but I can tell you this much, I guarantee the next time Melbourne play Manly, it will be a sell out and I also guarantee it is the Friday night game with a massive viewing audience - is that bad for the game, no it isn’t.

I have just learnt Adam Blair will miss five matches and I do not agree with that one bit; please revisit my Steve Price comment!!

I leave you with this quote from the late great Vince Lombardi - Football is not a contact sport, it’s a collision sport, dancing is a contact sport.

Cheers Vowlesy

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