7 Reasons Fining The French Is The IRB’s Most Idiotic Decision Yet
Over the years I have written many 7 Reasons posts – you may have noticed. None, though, have been written with such ferocious anger as this. Sunday was an odd day for me. Possibly suffering the after effects of Rapture 2.0, I did something I have never done before. I supported the French. I couldn’t help it. They played the better rugby in the World Cup Final. They played all the rugby. But my mind was made up before the kick-off. My made was made up during the Haka. The French advanced on it! I love it when teams do that. So you see, from that moment on, I had to support the French. The thing is, though, I had expected that to be the end. The end of my fanciness for all things French. But it’s not. Because I found myself outraged on hearing the news that the prats – and I don’t use that word lightly – at the IRB had handed France a £2,500 fine. For walking! It is just one of a number of pathetic decisions by the IRB jobsworths, but it’s probably the worst. Here’s why:
1. Hypocrisy. I don’t know if the esteemed members of the IRB have ever watched the Haka, but I have. And, as someone who knows*, let me be the first to tell them it’s not exactly morris-dancing. Lacking as it does the necessary handkerchiefs. I have never studied the Haka in detail, but the common theme running through all variations appears to be murder. The murder of the opposition. That’s naughty. If they want to fine anyone, they should fine the Kiwis for repeated death threats.
2. Respect. The charge levied at the French is that they advanced beyond the halfway line and in doing so not only disobeyed IRB regulations but disrespected the Haka. This is just wrong on so many levels. For a start, I saw an arrow with Thierry Dusautoir at the head. Then his comrades formed a horizontal line next to him. Take from this what you will. Maybe you saw men walking. Or, maybe like me, you saw men walking. Walking is not disrespectful. Especially if, like the French, you all happen to be holding hands at the time. It was just the French saying we accept the challenge. All be it in terrifically camp fashion. It was brilliant.
3. McCaw. Richie has his admirers – Kiwi’s being one** – and his detractors – basically anyone who sees his all too regular infringements. But this isn’t about his on-field play. This is about his post-match interview. On being asked by former Kiwi wicket-keeper, Ian Smith, for his reaction to their victory, McCaw replied, “I’m absolutely shagged…”. Now, if anyone was bringing the game into disrepute, surely it is McCaw by saying this. He is supposed to be setting an example to millions of youngsters around the world. The only thing this will do is encourage youngsters to repeat his words. For a sport in which men readily put their hands up between other men’s legs, this isn’t ideal.
4. Spectacle. I love the Haka. I love all the war cries. I even have my own which I prepare before taking on the shower. What I love even than the Haka, though, are the responses. Maybe it’s the pride in me, maybe it’s the naivety, but I like to think if someone was saying they were going to chop my head off, I’d have the gumption to say ‘not if I get to you first’. As an Englishman I’d love to do a Cockerill. Don’t be immature. Not like that. I mean a Richard Cockerill. He went face to face with Norm Hewitt in ’97. Then there’s the Welsh response in 2008 and the Irish’s Willie Anderson-led response in 1989. It’s just brilliant viewing before the real battle starts. I can only presume the IRB are anti-spectator.
5. Young Man. While the Haka does contain throat-slitting references, no one can deny that it is also inspired by YMCA. Just look at the photo above. Everyone knows that as soon as YMCA filters through to the ear drums it is instinct to walk to to the dance floor. The IRB can’t fine for instinct.
6. Missing The Point. Now the IRB have an extra £2,500 to spend on their golfing day, perhaps they’d like to discuss some of the real issues in the game around the ninth tee. Perhaps they’d like to sort out the inconsistencies in refereeing decisions. Perhaps they’d like to encourage putting the ball in straight at scrum time. Perhaps they’d like to explain how Courtney Lawes got a two-match suspension for ‘kneeing’ Mario Ledesma and yet USA Eagles captain, Todd Clever, got away with a ridiculous off the ball shoulder charge and high tackling against Russia. Or is that just wishful thinking?
7. French Resistance. I have very little left to give. I’m writing a 7 Reasons piece in which I am pretty much defending the French. As anyone who read 7 Reasons To Invade France will know, this is a massive turnaround in my mindset. The IRB have done this. The IRB have made me feel sorry for the French. The IRB are the one’s telling me not to try and sell you a France Invasion t-shirt.*** Helmets.
*Boy Scout Camp Trip. Circa 1993.
**My fiancee being another. I am yet to work out why.
***Nice link work.