England’s footballers make me proud…to be a rugby supporter

The woeful performance of England’s football team left me grinning with pride at rugby and its values as a sport compared with its more common relative.

The fact that a multi-billion pound business can fail disastrously at such an elementary level does not reflect well on the game of football, but it was the spiritless display by the overpaid celebrities, devoid of any pride and determination, that was so disappointing for the nation.

The so-called ‘roller-coaster ride’ over 90 minutes last night merits comparison with England’s Rugby World Cup highs and lows. Phil Vickery and his team were the laughing stock of the rugby world following the 36-0 mauling by the Springboks, but they rose from of oblivion and forced their way through to the final by coming together as a team that was perhaps greater than the sum of its parts.

England’s run to the final was characterised by the refusal of the likes of Martin Corry, Andrew Sheridan, Andy Gomersall and Jonny Wilkinson to fail. They showed fierce passion and courage to haul themselves out of the Pool, and then overcome Australia and France. The nation was behind them, proud of their fighting spirit, teamship and willingness to sacrifice themselves for each other.

Steven Gerrard’s eleven superstars (can you call it a team?) suffered a similar early setback against Croatia by conceding two early goals, and although they levelled the scores in the second half, it was more by luck than any admirable personal qualities in the players. A soft penalty kick-started their comeback and then a good combination of skill from David Beckham and Peter Crouch brought them back into contention.

It was then that they needed to dig deep in their soul and cling on for the draw for just 25 minutes, but alas it looked like they didn’t care enough. If 90,000 people at Wembley and millions watching at home is not enough, then at least show some determination to win for each other.

Indeed, when Scott Carson gifted the opposition that first goal, none of the England players appeared to console him. In rugby, you’d at least get an arm on your shoulder and a slap on the head from the captain encouraging you to fight for redemption. What the 22 year-old would have given last night for Gerrard to say, “Don’t worry, we all make mistakes” or Sol Campbell to offer, “Keep your head up, make up for it in the rest of the game.” But there was nothing but a message of, “You’ve messed up, you’re on your own” and the young goalkeeper made error after error in that first half.

Is this the sort of message we want to be conveying to the country’s youth, via the celebrity icons of the national sport? Would it not be better to get everyone playing rugby, instilling in children the importance of pride, determination and selfless support for one another?

The ramifications of the latest footballing catastrophe will be widespread – or at least they ought to be – but rugby can stand tall and proud of the values inherent with the game while the sport of the masses crumbles around it.

Campaign to make rugby the new national sport of England

By James Hutchison

8 thoughts on “England’s footballers make me proud…to be a rugby supporter

  1. Well the headline on this post certainly struck a chord with me as it’s almost word for word the same as a text I sent to my brother after the final whistle!

    For me, a key difference between rugby and football has always been that you can’t really play rugby half-heartedly otherwise you could get seriously hurt. In football, the worst that can happen is that you have to spend the whole summer shoe-shopping with your trophy wife instead of playing in a major tournament.

    When we got whupped 36-0 by the Boks we pulled no punches and admitted we were not good enough in any department, but we worked at it, and you know the rest.

    This morning on the radio, fans were blaming anything they could. Among the best were the American Football lines that were still visible (how did they have any bearing on the game? Oh, please!), the lack of a closing roof on Wembley (some people, they pay £800 million and wait 7 years for a stadium and they want the Earth!) and last but not least – you’ll love this – Steve McLaren’s umbrella!

    Yes, they tried to say that because he was stood on the touchline in a waterproof jacket under an umbrella, it set a bad example to the players! What should he have done, had his ear pierced, donned a beanie hat and charged about like a fan, like his counterpart Bilic? Can’t see him carrying off the ear-ring somehow.

    Here’s to a great summer in 2008 with the streets of England free of drunken monosyllabic chavs.

  2. Some people try to blame anyone but themselves in defeat. Mark Lawrenson was unbelievable on the commentary and almost tried to persuade us that they hadn’t lost.

    Motty said he was lost for words, Lawro came in with, “Well, I think they’ve done ever so well.”

    Realising his stupidity, he backtracked and suggested they did well to get two goals, not so well to concede three.

  3. This article is so biased its untrue!!! you say england came back more from luck than anything else…sorry but england were extremely lucky to get to the world cup final!!!!

    I like rugby alot and was very proud to see them get to the world cup final!!! some of ur points are valid…but football will always be a bigger and more popular sport!!! Anyone can go to the park throw a couple of jumpers on the floor and youve got your football pitch..its just easier to play i suppose!!

    England Football is not enjoying a good patch at the moment…but i can assure you that english football will get a purple patch which rugby is enjoying at the moment!!! Lets hope both sports get better and better!!! at the end of the day its for the good of the country!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I can’t say I’m completely impartial, but I don’t think it’s as biased as you suggest.

    I do believe England was lucky to get back on level terms with Croatia – the penalty decision was lucky, and you wouldn’t have complained too much if it hadn’t been given, and that goal restored a bit of belief.

    Saying we were lucky to get to the World Cup final is ludicrous – you need more than luck to beat Australia and then France in Paris in the semi final of their own competition.

  5. So Sammy, you went to a rugby website, which goes by the name of “The Rugby Blog” and has the web address of http://www.therugbyblog.com and you found some comments which you thought were a bit biased towards rugby. What are the chances? If you’re surprised at that, you’re just feeding people’s perception of football fans!

    James is right, that penalty was highly dubious. When faced with some dodgy penalties in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, England just played on and won. The biggest act of dissent was a raised eyebrow from Dallaglio! This year, we had a close call on a try (which I have to admit, wasn’t a try) and again just played on and blamed no-one but ourselves for the defeat.

    Football is a bigger game than rugby in terms of support – no-one on this site has ever said otherwise, unless you’re meaning their tongue-in-cheek campaign to make rugby the national sport. It’s called irony. You have completely missed an important point – a bit like your beloved England football team last week.

    What the post was all about was the manner of the defeat and the reaction of the players, fans and media, not the size of football’s following. Yes, football is watched by more people than rugby. What does that prove? The Sun outsells The Daily Telegraph. Mondeos outsell Aston Martins. Does that make them better?

    England have reached three Rugby World Cup Finals dating back to 1991. In that time, the best the football team has done is to bottle a Euro semi-final despite leading one-nil on home turf before a capacity crowd, followed by a succession of predictable penalty shoot-out defeats.

  6. After a goal is scored in football, notice the reaction of the keeper. He gesticualtes wildly at all and sundry for having the guile to allow the opposition to get close enough to score – placing blame and failing to accept his own calamity or perhaps being beaten by a better side. In rugby, if a tackle is missed/ball dropped or any other mistake which leads to a score, the offending player is consoled by his teammates and blame is spread throughout the team, not to one individual.

    Essentially, football is a game played by 22 individuals – rugby is a game played by 2 teams.

  7. basically at the end of the day from my point of view, england’s footballers, simply didnt want it enough. true there may have been one or two individuals who had the desire to hold on for the draw and go through. but football, like rugby, is a team sport. it is not enough for just one or two players to have great games. for a side to be successful, everyone has to be playing for each other. something that is seriously lacking in football.

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