Penrith playmaker Matt Burton will follow Trent Barrett to Canterbury, but not until 2022 as the new coach continues his Bulldogs overhaul.
Violence in society has spilled over into sport, not for the first time.
Sport, in this case rugby league, should represent all that is good about us.
Players spending hours preparing to compete against other like-minded players. Coaches instilling all the good virtues of being controlled in an aggressive environment. Play hard, play fair and may the best man or woman prevail. And what happens on the field stays on the field. So good so far.
But when emotions spill over and self-control gives way to actions that have no control, it’s inevitable that someone gets hurt.
Not because of an injury while playing – that will happen, we know that going in – but because society has clashed with the sport.
I am afraid to say that while society does not condone violence, it has allowed it to invade our way of life. It has become too much the norm.
I find any form of violence abhorrent. I am not a fighter, never have been. Scared of being hurt, sure. Worried about the possible consequences of injury, sure.
I had my one and only fight at school. I don’t recall what it was about. We met up after school behind the hall. He was with his mates and I was with mine. We faced off and he punched me first, to my astonishment I hit him in the nose and blood started streaming everywhere.
I backed away and well that was the end. I felt so bad that it had come to this. I said I was sorry and while we didn’t exactly embrace we did go on to become friends.
My point is that if nothing else, it was civilised. No knives. No guns. No weapons of any kind. No kicking him when he went down.
That’s what used to happen and if you must fight, at least it was civilised. When one combatant had had enough it was over. Even if he didn’t want to stop, he had mates that stepped in and said “enough”, protecting him from further damage.
Sport should represent all that is good about us. Sport is about many things but it should never be about violence. An argument started, a perpetrator was out of control and couldn’t leave it on the field, and it spilled over into society and a knife too easily became the natural extension of the argument.
Too easily and too often in today’s society, words translate into violence and into life-threatening consequences. Weapons are the tools of cowards.
If fighting is the only solution then let the two fight each other knowing that if beaten they will emerge with a limited injury because the duty of care of others should protect them. There is no shame in defeat if all that is injured is your pride.
It is a very sad indictment of a society that deadly weapons are so easily the answer. Let’s include coward punches in that weaponry. Please protect sport as a rewarding and fulfilling and enjoyable part of our life and discourage violence.
Rugby league is a great sport.