He’s not wrong you know.
Austin Healey believes rugby is in danger of going down the football route in light of some recent events. Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, the former England scrumhalf draws comparison to what happened with football with the introduction of the Premier League,
English football changed forever when the Premier League was born in 1992. For better and worse. Money flowed into the game and skill levels went up but a lot of traditions and values went out the window. I’m starting to feel the same thing is happening to rugby right now.
The professional, turned pundit cites a number of examples that are worrying for the sport.
To name a few: the Uini Atonio incident and Wales’ reaction to it, London Welsh going out of existence, John Feehan refusing to consider opening up the Six Nations and Aaron Mauger losing his job as Leicester head coach on Monday just a few hours after winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Virtually all of those incidents have been underpinned either by a win-at-all-costs mentality or simple greed. Of course I want to see the game grow. I am not one of those “it was better in my day” sorts. But I think we need a debate about what sort of values we need to uphold and protect in the game because it does not take much for those to disappear.
Healey says he remembers watching football in the 1980s, and how it was a proper sport and not the situation we have now where ‘everyone dives, referees are openly abused and there is a huge disconnect between fans and players.’
While we may think there’s absolutely no way that could ever happen in rugby, Healey says don’t be so sure as ‘all the little things that rugby used to pride itself on not doing are now creeping into the game.”
Simulation is now rife. In virtually every game I have seen this season, I have seen a form of simulation.
When was the last time you saw a player admit that his foot was in touch or that he dropped the ball before scoring a try? Ask yourself when was the last time you saw a genuine act of sportsmanship? It seems to take a serious incident for that basic humanity to come back into the game.
You can read Healey’s intriguing piece in full here. What do you think? Does he have a point?