7 Reasons Manu Tuilagi Should Be Embarrassed
On Saturday afternoon, the country had two choices. They could either watch a bunch of tarts or a bunch of thugs. Being someone who lacks a passion for theatrical performance this choice didn’t apply to me. My radar featured solely the Leicester v Northampton Premiership semi-final. The FA Cup Final only appeared on nancy boy’s radars. And Ricky Hatton’s. My choice, as happens regularly with my choices, was the correct one and I was treated to a terrific sporting occasion. However, it wasn’t all savoury. During the first half there was an off the ball incident between Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi and Northampton’s Chris Ashton. For those who didn’t watch it, this is what happened. Manu Tuilagi attempts something resembling a tackle on Chris Ashton. Unfortunately, Ashton didn’t have the ball. And in rugby, tackling someone without the ball is frowned upon. So, Ashton gives Tuilagi a shove to say, “Excuse me ol’chap, I am without ball. That’s terribly unsportsmanlike conduct.” To which Tuilagi replies, “No it ******* well isn’t! This is!” Although he replaced the words with three punches. Unfortunately footage of the incident isn’t great, but it’s as good as we have for now.
At full speed it looked like a brutal attack and one Audley Harrison would be proud/incapable of. On closer inspection though, it’s pretty poor. And for that Manu should be incredibly embarrassed. Here’s why:
1. Eyes. In such circumstances the victim should really have his eyes shut as he prepares himself for the blow. The puncher, on the other hand, should be looking in the direction of his target. This is all back to front. Firstly, although it’s hard to tell, Ashton has his eyes open. And secondly, Tuilagi has his eyes shut. So what can we establish from this? Well, firstly that Ashton is a madman. He likes pain and he loves watching the impact of a fist on his face. Secondly, Tuilagi is squeamish. He’ll gladly give someone a happy slap but he doesn’t want to see blood.
2. Body Position. Now, I’ve done a bit of boxing – in a ring that was frequented by Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist no less – so I like to think I know what I am talking about. When you punch, you’ll get more joy if you hit in front of you as opposed to the side. Obviously, there may be occasions when your target is not in front of you. If this is the case it is generally a good idea to move.
3. Oxygen. It’s always a good idea to breath when involved in a pursuit that actively encourages being alive. Tuilagi’s decision to hold his breath was not only dangerous, it also made him look a little chubby.
4. Standing. If you get a chance to see decent footage, do watch it. That’s because this footage is useless at showing what happened next. It also doesn’t fully show the impact of the other two punches. Well, actually, it doesn’t show the other two punches. And, while I have suggested these punches weren’t particularly great, they were still pretty damn forceful. The slow-mo footage shows Ashton’s head turn into a jelly for a few moments. The thing is though, after Tuilagi threw the punches, nothing happened. Ashton just stood there. And so did Tuilagi. And Tuilagi looked at Ashton standing in front of him and said, “Huh? What the hell aren’t you doing on the floor? Get down son, you’re making me look like a tit.” Which he did.
5. Officials. While Tuilagi was trying to punch Ashton into Nottingham, the touch judge was doing what all good touch judges should do. He was waving his flag around. The referee, Wayne Barnes eventually noticed the semaphore message and stopped the game. He then had a chat with his touch judge and then sent both Tuilagi and Ashton to the sin-bin. So yes, Tuilagi should be embarrassed for putting the officials in a position where they made the worst decision in the history of refereeing. Ever.
6. Ovation. Despite all I have said about the punches and their ineffectualness the home crowd seemed to love it. I felt somewhat uncomfortable as I watched the Tigers faithful give Tuilagi an ovation as he ran back on the pitch after his sin-bin. Sure, if he had flattened Ashton, give him an ovation. But don’t applaud the guy for half measures. He must have felt three inches tall after hearing that. How embarrassing to hear your own supporters cheer you for not punching properly. They must have thought that’s all he had. Which it was.
7. Handshake. So you’ve thrown everything at your opponent. He’s taken an absolute hammering. So what’s the worst that can happen now? That’s right, he comes up to you at the end of the match without a scratch on him and says, “Well played.” And all you can do is smile and remind everyone that you spend far too long shaping your sideburns.