In amongst the relief, joy and optimism, hypocrisy of the highest was also present on Saturday.
George North’s point at Will Genia as he was going over to score that brilliant try was either lauded or (largely) ignored in pubs, clubs and living rooms around the country, not to mention amongst the hordes of Lions’ fans on tour. This is in stark contrast to the bile that was thrown Delon Armitage’s way following his wave in the Heineken Cup Final as he ran away from Brock James to score what was ultimately the winning try.
First and foremost, let me get this clear; I do not have a problem with either player’s behaviour. This is a personal opinion and I know I am in the minority, but I have set out in some depth my feelings about Armitage and the way he chose to celebrate his try for Toulon already.
What grates with me about George North is not the act itself, but instead the difference in the way the media reacted to both.
Let’s take Brian Moore as an easy and very visible example. There was a nod from Moore on his Twitter feed (@brianmoore666) that he did not approve of gorgeous George’s pre-try finger-wagging at the Aussie scrum-half – ‘btw didn’t like the point – totally unnecessary’. Compare this to what he said about Armitage – ‘if a player did to me what Armitage has just done I’d have to chin him after the touchdown’. Cue twitter meltdown and online spat played out for all to see.
Freddie Burns (@FreddieBurns) highlighted the exact same point I’m trying to make and received differing responses: ‘Armitage slated for waving at James in H cup final, yet North’s point to Genia is almost celebrated. What’s the difference?’
Danny Cipriani replied – ‘fair question’
Declan Dannaher couldn’t resist – ‘take it Brian Moore gave him some grief on twitter or is North a bit too big for him to punch??’
Richard Wigglesworth got to the nub of it in 6 words: ‘one’s loved and one isn’t simple’.
Others chipped in too:
Journalist Nick Heath (@rugbymedia) – ‘I happily remain critical of both if it helps’
Fijian international Semi Tadulala (@semitadz)- ‘disrespectful from a young up n coming on a legend of the game’
Matt Giteau (@giteaurugby) who is of course a team mate Armitage chose an embarrassed looking emoticon!
As I said, I know I am in the minority in not seeing a problem with it, and so maybe Brendan Gallagher should have the final word: ‘in the big scheme of things not a hideous “crime”, but rugby a better a game without such taunting’.
The last point is up for debate in my book, but what are your thoughts?
By Chris Francis (@mckrisp)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images