Should rugby play­ers be viewed as role mod­els?

Rugby World - - FRONT ROW -


Danny Cipri­ani is one of the most gifted at­tack­ing fly-halves in the world. He

or­gan­ises a team’s shape and his pass­ing is the stuff of po­etry. But he’s not a role model, nor should he be one. Sports­men are over­grown kids in shorts (bar golfers). Like Peter Pan, they are

blessed with end­less youth. They are mak­ers of magic and mem­o­ries, men and women who brighten the most bor­ing week­end – but they are not role mod­els.

Those who take the big bucks can’t com­plain when an off-field in­ci­dent costs them a lu­cra­tive con­tract but that’s not what we are get­ting at. Role mod­els are moth­ers and fa­thers, broth­ers and sis­ters. Role mod­els are self­less peo­ple

who do good deeds for noth­ing. Sports­men are el­e­vated into po­si­tions of moral pos­tur­ing (by oth­ers) be­cause of abil­ity, which has noth­ing to do with moral­ity. We want them, like any per­son, to be as de­cent as pos­si­ble but young sup­port­ers want them to be win­ners – that is the point of sport. Ge­orge Or­well called it “war mi­nus the shoot­ing”. He­roes with feet of clay they may

well be but not role mod­els.


In an ideal world all adults would be­have re­spectably, as good role mod­els for the young. In re­al­ity, with bad be­hav­iour of vary­ing de­grees all around, adults in the pub­lic eye should try harder to set a good ex­am­ple. A pro­fes­sional rugby player’s ca­reer is a short one, so is it re­ally too much to ask that they stay on the right side of the law and live by a few de­cent morals dur­ing that time? They have the rest of their lives to be­have badly!

It mat­ters when play­ers are con­victed of crimes like drink-driv­ing – as Dan Carter, Danny Care and Danny Cipri­ani have been – or as­sault, be­cause they are he­roes to teenagers. It also mat­ters when an ath­lete’s sex­ual mis­con­duct is re­vealed in graphic de­tail in the law courts, or when they’re dis­ci­plined by their teams for it.

In the 20th cen­tury, play­ers got away with all sorts be­cause there was less of a me­dia and so­cial me­dia spot­light. To­day’s play­ers en­joy many ad­van­tages over those in the past, so they have to live with the dis­ad­van­tages too – which means act­ing with re­spect and good sense on and off the pitch. Drink up! Ed Par­sons, from Croy­don, brings new mean­ing to team-bond­ing drinks with this side. Send al­ter­na­tive XVs to rug­by­worldlet­ters@ti-me­dia.com

Lon­don Pride

Old Hooky

John Willie’s


Wag­gle Dance


Bish­ops Finger

Blan­ford Fly

Slip­pery Jack






Devon Darter

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