Mealy-mouthed friends make Kyle’s ‘dig’ worse

The Rugby Paper - - Views - COLIN BOAG

As a con­firmed grumpy old man, the list of things that ir­ri­tate me be­yond be­lief is a lengthy one, but rugby’s dis­ci­plinary judge­ments, and then play­ers apol­o­gis­ing for team-mates’ mis­de­meanours, are high on my list.

Af­ter Kyle Sinck­ler’s well-de­served seven-week ban for ‘mak­ing con­tact with the eye/eye area’ of an op­po­nent in the ‘Quins match against Northamp­ton his for­mer team­mate Ugo Monye ap­peared Rugby Tonight.

Monye ex­plained that Sinck­ler was try­ing to rip his op­po­nent’s skull cap off, but once he’d ac­com­plished that, he went ‘back for an­other dig’.

If the pur­pose of the mad­ness was to re­move Michael Pater­son’s cap, and he’d done that, what pos­si­ble in­no­cent ex­pla­na­tion could there be for hav­ing an­other go?

How­ever, we then got the sort of mealy-mouthed non­sense that we hear so of­ten. Ap­par­ently Monye knows Sinck­ler re­ally well, and told us that ‘there was ab­so­lutely no in­tent’.

“That is quite sim­ply a non­sen­si­cal thing to say, as there’s no way that Monye can know what was go­ing through Sinck­ler’s mind at that mo­ment. Far bet­ter to say that he’s a lovely bloke off the field, but good­ness knows what got into him.

I’ve heard this sort of thing so many times in the past and it’s an un­savoury part of rugby. When Alan Quin­lan missed the Lions tour as a re­sult of a 12week ban for mak­ing con­tact with the eyes of an op­po­nent, we were told that no way was ‘Quinny’ a dirty player.

When Paul O’Con­nell got four weeks for strik­ing Jonathan Davies with his fore­arm, the Ospreys for­wards coach, Jonathan Humphreys sprung to his de­fence, telling us that ‘Paul O’Con­nell is not a dirty player by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion’, and the list is as long as your arm of sim­i­lar ut­ter­ances – ev­ery time some­thing hap­pens, the same ex­cuses get rolled out. The fact of the mat­ter is that per­fectly de­cent rugby play­ers, when the red mist de­scends, do stupid and dirty things.

Far bet­ter for cur­rent play­ers and coaches to sim­ply play a straight bat, and say that they’re happy to let the dis­ci­plinary process take its course, and ex-play­ers, like Monye, need to put their pre­vi­ous loy­al­ties to one side, and re­view the in­ci­dent from an im­par­tial point of view.

Like most peo­ple I re­ally couldn’t care less about what a great bloke a player is off the field, I just want a proper pro­fes­sional re­view of their on-field ac­tions, and if found guilty, for the proper sen­tence to be handed out, with­out any non­sense about ir­rel­e­vant mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances.

The mar­ket­ing blurb ac­com­pa­ny­ing last week’s an­nounce­ment of the 2017-18 Eng­land Rugby al­ter­nate kit was re­ally quite re­mark­able. It told us that it’s dark grey, ‘In line with Eng­land head coach Ed­die Jones’ vi­sion to be more dis­rup­tive and un­com­pro­mis­ing on the field’, what­ever that means.

Ap­par­ently it’s in­spired by ‘dis­trac­tion prin­ci­ples’, sup­pos­edly to make it harder for op­po­nents to dis­tin­guish as­pects of the body dur­ing the tackle!

Also, there is an em­bossed mo­tif with an­gu­lar shapes that ap­par­ently pays homage to fortress Twick­en­ham, although I con­fess that passed me by! Fans should buy the al­ter­nate shirt to be part of ‘the col­lec­tive com­mit­ment from both elite play­ers and sup­port­ers to drive the team for­ward through­out the 17/18 sea­son’.

None of this should de­tract from what are, in fact re­ally nice replica shirts, and if that’s your thing then I reckon they’ll prove pop­u­lar. The odd thing is that they’re only sched­uled to be used in the first Au­tumn in­ter­na­tional against Ar­gentina in a few weeks’ time – seem­ingly it will be the tra­di­tional white shirts for the next two Tests.

That seems to be a real shame for fans fork­ing out up to £90, and it would be good if the RFU de­cided to give them an­other out­ing or two so that fans who buy them get a bit more value for their money.

Apol­o­gist: Kyle Sinck­ler in ac­tion for Quins. In­set: Ugo Monye

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