There were two send offs last Saturday night when New Zealand played Australia. Both players involved showed tackling skills which the Laws of the Game now frown upon.
I thought it appropriate to congratulate them both on their reactions to being sent off.
Each of Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Lachlan Swinton showed admirable discipline and respect for the game by leaving the field without comment and with good grace.
Clearly, both were disappointed. It must be very difficult to have worked so hard to represent your country and then find your match is over early.
Compare that respect for the game of rugby to the disrespect shown by Australia’s captain Michael Hooper.
As the referee called Hooper and Swinton to him, Hooper said “Don’t square it up. Just because… It’s a completely different…”.
The referee immediately replied by saying “No, it’s not.”
As Swinton, showing the same restraint as Tu’ungafasi, walked dejectedly off the paddock, Hooper was still talking to the referee.
Don’t square it up? What an insult to the referee that is. It implies that the ref
(i) might make a decision of fact which was intentionally wrong
(ii) might not apply the laws of the game fairly
(iii) is about to make a decision that favours the opposition because it favours the opposition and not because it is a fair one
In other words, by insinuation, the integrity of the referee is put in question.
Remember that Hooper has learned his captaincy over the last four years from Michael Cheika, a renowned whiner. I suppose Hooper’s mindset is hardly surprising in light of that.
Then again, compare the attitude of David Rennie, the new Wallaby coach to that of Hooper’s. Not once in any after match press conference has he shown anything other than respect and acceptance of referee decisions.
The core values of rugby are passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork. Hooper shows passion and teamwork in abundance.
He casts aspersions upon the games integrity and, when it comes to referees, on occasion, shows no discipline or respect.
One day he’ll take it too far and get yellow carded. It should have been last Saturday. Perhaps Rennie can teach him something about captaincy. For the sake of the game, I hope so.