Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen.”
I’m not sure who the originator of that quote was, but reference is made to a man called Walter Carey and is believed to be a quote in relation to the Barbarians rugby club which states “rugby football is a game for gentlemen of all classes, but not for bad sportsmen of any class.”
A man called William Percy “Tottie” Carpmael who founded the Barbarian FC in 1890 was also suggested as the originator.
A more recent explanation comes from a certain Chancellor of Cambridge University in the UK (confessing complete ignorance of all football, regardless of what code), who when asked to sum up a debate between soccer and rugby said “it is clear that one is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans; the other a hooligan’s game played by gentleman.”
But the one I like the best is allegedly from Irish playwright Oscar Wilde who when asked to describe a game of rugby said “Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the centre of the city.”
Regardless of who said what, our counterparts in rugby really put us to shame when it comes to discipline on the field of play, and sometimes off it.
The recent tragic loss of life of soccer referees highlights the lack of discipline in our “beautiful game.”
The thuggery that exists and the malice with which it is carried out leaves me dumbfounded and worrying for the future of our game.
Being a sports lover as I am, I recently watched the Australia v British Lions rugby game from Melbourne, Australia (06/07/2013).
A yellow card for a rugby player is a big thing and it means that the player concerned has to sit off the field for 10 minutes in the “sin bin.”
Naturally he’s not happy and neither is his team because they are now a man short and this could be decisive as far as the outcome of the game is concerned.
However, Ben Alexander of Australia was duly yellow carded in the 24:25 of the first half.
I’d wish you could see footage of this incident because it is a classic example of how rugby players accept their punishment without so much as a word of dissent. (From Editors: But see the video below how rugby referees deal with dissent)
Compare that with our over paid, over rated soccer players and the contrast is as different as night and day.
They rant and rave. They call the referee all kinds of names and on occasion they refuse to leave the field of play without some kind of verbal and sometimes physical protest.
I personally blame the authorities of soccer who allow this kind of dissent to go on without clear and unambiguous consequences for such actions.
We need to clean up our game and fast. Soccer is no longer a sport, it is a business and perhaps that’s where the problem is.
The need to win overshadows the need for good sportsmanship. Perhaps I’m being a little naive, but it’s a disgusting part of soccer and needs to be cleaned up sooner rather than later.
About the author: Dr Errol Sweeney (PhD) BBA Dip.PM, aka “The Hanging Judge,” is a former L.o.I and SA Premier League Referee, World Cup Referee & Assistant Referee Coach & Mentor. He coached/mentored a referee to 2 World Cups, Olympic Games, Confederations Cup, 2 U/17 FIFA World Cups and 4 African Nations Cups.