By The Spotter
The World Cup has been terrific so far and it’s good for the mind and soul to hear tales like the South African fans clapping their Japanese counterparts off the bus first at Brighton city centre after that amazing match on Saturday. However, if you are a Rugby fan who doesn’t suffer defeat well, or indeed, takes it a bit too personally, then read the following and digest. Conversely, if you usually manage to act rationally after unexpected defeats, be glad…
With the televised march towards the grail and some bleary-eyed mornings coming up or should you in fact be lucky enough to be at Rugby World Cup itself, if you are prone to being a sore loser how about effecting a change and ‘playing nicely’ should our beloved All Blacks return home empty-handed from the UK? I suppose we would like to think that we are properly grown-up Rugby supporters nowadays and that we have definitely learnt lessons from the past. However, as has happened on more than one previous occasion in which the All Blacks have tripped up, when a section of our Rugby public’s passion mixes with resentment after a defeat it often makes for a pretty lethal cocktail.
Heed these examples of boofheaded behaviour before you go diving off the deep end with any irrational insults or worse said down at the pub or on more public forums like social media and radio talkback:
The aftermath of the now infamous 1999 semi-final defeat to France and in so many cases, the almost-too-imbecilic-to mention reactions that followed- including the most publicised one: The spitting at of John Hart’s horse, Holmes DG at the New Zealand Trotting Cup. With any luck the perpetrator’s tipping that day was just as rotten as his behaviour.
And you may or may not recall several years ago, a poignant letter written to a newspaper by the ex-CEO of NZ Cricket Justin Vaughan about the abusive and literally threatening behaviour of a reasonably big group of so-called All Blacks fans at a Bledisloe Cup game across the ditch. Vaughan used terminology such as ‘shocked’,’stunned’ and ‘saddened’ to describe his feelings on the incident.
I can recount a similar experience. I was at the French test at Eden Park in 2013 with a group of my language school students when various people around us had the audacity to cheer for France (oh, that’s right-the cheering throng were French nationals, funny that..). It takes a bit of doing to make me feel uneasy but the resultant stream of extremely aggressive, drunken abuse levelled at those French supporters made me shudder and wish I had never suggested to the students to join me in going. What these foreigners were perhaps told (and it is of course true in the main) about friendly Kiwi rugby followers must have seemed like absolute hogwash to them after that. And if that wasn’t enough, an inoffensive and excited group of teenagers obviously having a great time dressed up in their ‘onesies’ were subjected to another fearful verbal barrage including, really sickeningly, the threat of having their faces smashed in.
No doubt we have probably all experienced similar shocking behaviour in sport before. Remember, there are plenty of other countries just dying to get their hands on that Webb Ellis trophy. But if you still have to have your unfailing blinkers on at all times, take on board that to experience the loss of a sporting fixture is probably a lot more palatable to registering a loss of personal dignity. I for one certainly believe so. And…take note of those awesome Boks fans as per above.
To give your thoughts on this piece or to offer your opinion on anything sports-related, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org (put ‘To Paul’ in the subject line).