Rugby Rugby’s Howard Johnson has to contend with being caught in a rugby pincer movement of French and Welsh fans all ganging up on the English! Does he survive? Read on…
Oh to be an Englishman in the Six Nations! Rugby is a worldwide brotherhood and all that. But let’s face it, us followers of the Red Rose aren’t being overly paranoid in thinking that those fraternal ties are just that wee bit stronger between those who are united against England above all. The stories are legion of fans of all nationalities and loyalties spending more time in the bar discussing their distaste for the famous white shirt than the forthcoming match when they meet in the Six Nations. And that much was only confirmed last week when a French friend of mine, returning from a sleep-deprived weekend in Edinburgh watching France beat Scotland at Murrayfield, reported – rather gleefully, it must be said – that “they don’t like you very much up there, do they?”
Me? I don’t take all the English-baiting too seriously. Those sons of Albion of a more sensitive disposition might feel that the constant ragging borders on the xenophobic. They might even have a point. But I’d prefer to take the baiting on the chin, safe in the knowledge that such an overwhelming desire to get one over on the English clearly demonstrates a deep-seated fear of what we are capable of doing to our opponents out on the pitch.
The problem is that when the object of such verbal barbs isn’t an English player, but rather an English referee, then things can get a little more tricky. Here’s an example. I watched the re-arranged France v Ireland game from the comfort of a friend’s sofa at the weekend. The sofa was situated in a house in a little hamlet in the south-west of France and its owner was clearly truly, madly, deeply passionate about Les Bleus. He didn’t hold back in expressing his opinions on a generally lacklustre display from Philippe Saint-André’s team. Nor did he keep his counsel about what he saw as flagrant Irish cheating, especially when it came to not rolling away at the breakdown. But the majority of his ire was reserved for English ref Dave Pearson, the man in control of the match. I won’t make any direct translations of the many, varied and sometimes highly-innovative expressions my pal came up with for poor old Mr. Pearson. Not on a family website. And if respect for the ref is drilled into all rugby folk from the very earliest days, then my mate Fred is guilty of having had a serious relapse for 80-odd minutes on Sunday. The poor man was going apoplectic, totally unable to understand why Pearson couldn’t penalise the men in green over any number of what to his mind were ‘clear’ infringements.
I had to admit that he had a point, particularly after a blatant and deliberate Irish obstruction when France looked like they could work the ball into the corner for a try was punished by a mere penalty, rather than what seemed to me like a certain yellow card.
And then things got worse. I received a text from a Welsh friend who was watching the match at the same time back in London asking why on earth a yellow card hadn’t been doled out and that the decision was, frankly, an absolute disgrace. There I was, suddenly caught in the middle of a dual nationality rugby pincer movement against the English ref. There was no point in me pointing out that I did, in fact, agree with their point of view. Not when both of my pals had once more found a way to unite against the English. Even though they were a couple of thousand miles apart. And even though they didn’t even know each other! Bloody hell, England weren’t even playing and there I was, getting it in the neck again! Sometimes you know that life just isn’t fair!
Still, my two mates sure seemed to be getting a kick out of laying into the English ref, so who was I to spoil their enjoyment? Relying on the highly-traditional English quality of stoicism, I merely kept my own counsel, sipped on my beer and let them both get on with having pop after pop. Who’d be a ref, eh? And who on earth would be an English ref?! That’s surely a level of self-loathing that’s simply off the scale!
Still, we’re all still mates this morning now that the dust has settled, which surely counts for something. There’s only one major worry, though. It’s France v England this coming weekend. I’m watching the match with my French friend Fred again. Will our friendship survive in the face of what will no doubt be some even more severe Red Rose baiting? Even though the ref won’t be English? Well, you’ll just have to tune in next week to find out, won’t you?! Wish me luck!
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.