Over the last few months of rugby I have started noticing a change in the atmosphere surrounding rugby, my personal view is I don't like it.
As a child I was introduced to a fantastic sport which I grew to love and adore........Rugby. A sport in which I was always told "Football is a gentleman's game played by ruffians, and rugby is a ruffian's game played by gentlemen." Obviously a little exaggerated but the general ethos is there. A game in which respect was imperative amongst players and spectators.
For players they adhere to the referees word, do not argue with him and call him sir. They clap each other from the field of play and regardless of what occurs in the game itself you'll sit and chew the fat over a pint with your opponent.
Whereas supporters would applaud players from both sides on and off the field. When a team would have a kick at the posts silence would be observed as a respect for the kicker. Applause was also granted even when the opposition scored a try or performed a well executed tackle.
Are these un-written rules of rugby still observed.......sadly No!!
A bold statement may be other than integrating of supporters the crowd is now leaning towards a footballesque audience. A prime example was displayed in the Scotland v New Zealand fixture where Dan Carter wad berated with boo's every time he had a kick at goal. It becoming an all to present occurrence in many fixtures now, including a vocal presence of trying to influence the referees decision. I would love to say even Bath are exempt from such behaviour but even the rec faithful have displayed such animosity. Andy Powell received a yellow card for a high tackle and received a torrent if boo's then released a hand gesture directed to the Bath fans earning himself a ban, I'm not justifying his behaviour but players are only human after all and can only take a certain amount of abuse. And I believe with the crowds continuing to react in the manner they are we may see more slip up from players.
Creeping into to the game now is more disagreement of the referees decision from the players, with the trial of the new TMO system earlier this season there were many players asking the ref to go up stairs and check with the video ref. It has always been that the captain and player who is being addressed by the referee are the only one to be able to talk to him.
I did see a tweet over the weekend where somebody was watching a u13's fixture being refereed by a female ref, one of the boys apparently was not very happy by her decisions and called her a 'cheating f***ing b*tch'! Are we allowing our youth to confuse a footballers respect for a ref as opposed to the traditional respect demanded in rugby.
In short is there a shift of the polite Ethos of rugby now were well into the professional era, I for one hope we can make it back to the good old days or am I becoming slightly deluded and need to accept the new dimension of the sport.?