North and Armitage – what’s the difference?

north armitage
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

49 thoughts on “North and Armitage – what’s the difference?

  1. The finger-point was unnecessary, and shouldn’t be a part of the game. If he did it in the same vein as DA, then he deserves the same level of condemnation. However (and I realise this is pure speculation on my part), when I saw it live I wasn’t sure if it was a “pre-try celebration” or perhaps pointing the support runner to where he wanted him in case he wanted/needed to pass the ball. DA’s action had no such uncertainty, being a clear taunting wave, so it’s easier to see the childishness in it…

  2. If you can’t distinguish between beating 4 men from your own half and giving a send off against just scoring a runaway on the end of an overlap in the opposition 22 then you are a fool and there is no helping you. North earned the right to showboat, Armitage didn’t. Simple.

    You may not like showboating and whether it has any place in rugby is a different matter altogether; but the two incidents are not the same whatever DA’s mates tweet.

  3. Good article. This is exactly the same arguement as with elaborate dives in my opinion. You have Chris Ashton who is branded cocky and disrespectful for his ‘ash splash’ in the 6 nations whilst Shane Williams performed some absurd dives against teams like Japan in a world cup and nobody battered an eye lid. Williams is a great player and will always be a welsh legend whilst Ashton seems hugely unpopular. North is an outrageously talented and likeably player whilst Armitage, also extremely talented, is associated with controversy and disrespect. Right or wrong, it should be the same for all players.

    1. Think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Armitage has a history and is largely disliked, while North seems grounded and humble. So when he does something like this it’s easy to wave it away, while for Armitage it is just ‘more proof that he’s a bit of a d**k’.

  4. Don’t forget this is Delon who once “kissed the badge”… Far worse than either of the offences discussed above!

    It is a bit of a slippery slope, but we’re never going to go back to the days of yore when players just shook each other’s hands in a very manly way when they scored. I remember my Grandad frowning on the French for “all this Gallic hugging” in the 80’s. And everyone does that now.

    The point is respect. Both DA and GN’s gestures were directed at another player, taunting him for not catching up, and that’s disrespectful.

    These are not try celebrations, which I think can largely be overlooked even if they are a bit ridiculous or over-exuberant (see the Ash Splash). This is just being rude.

    1. He “kissed the badge” because France had said he was too small for international rugby and turned him down. He scored a try against them, it was a dig – fair enough, I say.

  5. When I watched it live I thought it was a preparation for a potential hand off if he needed it.

    Has north commented on it?

  6. Good article Chris – I love to see people squirming and skirting around the truth, though I guess that in itself is encouraging as it would suggest that we (rugby) are still not 100% comfortable about getting ‘personal’. Delon has let himself down on many occasions (on and off the pitch) – as has Ashton (only ‘on’ the pitch AFAIK) and we English are very harsh judges of character when it comes to our ‘stars’ – so everything they do will be derided. And of course – I don’t think i need to go into too much detail about the other home nations’ atitudes towards the English? Meanwhile – Shane Williams, George North etc – are heroes to their nation and can do no wrong … maybe that IS a better attitude? And of course … we as English would not DREAM of suggesting otherwise – hence George’s show boating was met with a couple of tumbleweeds – and nothing more. Personally – I hate it. Just like I hate the scrum half running around and tapping each of his forwards on the bum after a good scrum and deriding the opposition as they sit on the floor … it’s a slippery slope to kissball land, and there is no way back. Rugby should be about integrity and respect. We all know Delon doesn’t have any, but I suspect a few of us had hoped that big George had a bit more.

    1. Odd to try and bring national jibes into this. Come to Wales and see how Henson is greeted and you’ll see that we are just disparaging of our pricks as we are English ones. The point with Armitage and Ashton is not that they are English, it is that they are pricks.

      1. I know a lot of people hate Ashton but i honestly don’t understand why. Could you explain the things he has done wrong other than being over hyped by the media after scoring a few good trys.

  7. If you seriously think he was pointing to the support runner or preparing for a hand off you need to watch the try again.

    GN waits until he is practically over the line, and looks straight at Genia. Besides, who hands off with one finger pointing?

  8. For me it comes down to an understanding of each players character from both the public and the media.

    Armitage has a track record of poor behaviour, and as such his was seen as further proof of his character.

    North does not have previous and was seen as having made a mistake.

    This is further supported by their differing responses afterwards – North took the opportunity to apologise whereas Armitage came across as having an attitude of ‘so what’.

    My view is that both deserve criticism but the calmer reaction to North is as a result of the fact that it is viewed as out of character for him.

    I do struggle to see why you do not think there is anything wrong with it though Chris, rugby is a game that has respect at its core – this eats away at that.

    1. I’m not sure if rugby does have respect at its core. Sledging is a constant and has been for many years now. Everyone also accepts that you get away with any cheating you can. I think its part of the middle class high horse a lot of rugby fans sit on.

  9. First offence from North, Armitage has a long history of poor discipline, cheap shots and being card prone.

    So the difference between the 2 incidents is context. Not suggesting North should be congratulated for it, just needs to be pointed out and fingers crossed he won’t make a habit of it.

  10. I’m sort of with Brian Moore. yes I did just say that. George North’s finger wag was distasteful, it was a celebration before the try and it was aimed at the defender. I think the main difference was,it was discrete. Armitage from 20m out was waving and flapping his tongue and his demeanour was very different.

    Personally, I don’t like any of that nonsense, but I accept you’re going to get it.

      1. a point at the floor where he’s going to score a try is far more discrete than a wave and a tongue out from 20m away.


          It’s hardly discrete…

          The only difference between the two is that George apologised straight after the game, and didn’t argue before realising (being told by agents) that he should apologise.

          The actual incidents themselves are both unacceptable.

          On an unrelated note, no one seems to have mentioned yet that Folau throws the ball at a lion just after scoring his 2nd try.

          Also, it’s not a surprise that players do this kind of thing. After croft’s try against the waratahs, he got a late hit from Paddy Ryan for his troubles, and yet did nothing like these “celebrations”… Sometimes opponents do bring it upon themselves

          1. There was a great amount of afters and unnecessary stuff in the Waratahs game. I believe that the coach told them to go out there and put it about. Bit stupid in my mind, and it’s not exactly as though the tactic paid dividends.

  11. hi all – thought this might get some reaction. as I say, i’m not averse to it, and also not really surprised there was a difference in reaction.

    I think this sort of thing is as much to try and gain a marginal edge psychologically as anything else, much like standing over the opposition front row when you’ve just pummelled them…not a common view point but essentially I think this is at the heart of my view on it.

  12. Wigglesworth is partly right but it’s the reason Armitage isn’t liked that is the nub – he has history of being a completely dis-likable tool so when he did it the reaction was distaste at the pillock acting like a big headed fool again. North has, up till now, seemed like a decent guy so most people hope it’s just a one off. As I wrote on the player ratings “We love you George, don’t turn into a twat”.

    I did hear one explanation that it was a dummy point at JD – pretending he might pass to him? I don’t know if I believe that though and it doesn’t affect my point above.

  13. Brighty is right – its the history that makes the difference. Had North amassed a similar disciplinary record to Armitage then the outcry would be similar.

    Its his first offence – let’s hope its his last

    RE. Ashton, I can’t really see what he’s done to get the opprobrium over his try scoring celebrations. His disciplinary record isn’t too bad. He just seems to rub people up the wrong way for some reason.

    It used to annoy the hell out of me when Shane Williams did it as well, especially against rubbish opponents. I thought he was a complete plonker for it. Not many people seemed to agree with me though – probably ‘cos they thought he was a nice bloke.

  14. There’s not much difference in what they did, but there is a massive difference in the character of the two players. Armitage has a very poor disciplinary record for both dangerous play, and verbal issues. Whereas North (to my knowledge) does not have the same personality issues that Armitage obviously suffers from. I think the reaction differs because of this, and to put it bluntly, people reacted to Armitage doing it because he has a history of being an arrogant idiot, but North does not.
    I believe this is also the same reason Lancaster has never even mentioned Armitage when talking about potentials in the England squad. Playing in France aside, I just don’t think he would be picked until he can prove he can behave the way Lancaster would be happy with.

    1. hi wayne,

      it was more a general point, but I didn’t know that about the talksport commentary – i’ll admit I wasn’t listening to it…

      I think the wider point still stands


  15. Thought Armitage was an idiot for doing it and think North is the same. We’ll see if North learns from his mistakes, unlike Armitage who keeps on making them. Also whether he starts to believe all the things people say about him. Has ruined Henson, Ashton, etc. I hope he doesn’t go the same way. It’s a slippery slope when you’re on it.

  16. To me it looked like North believed Genia was going to get a tackle in & was preparing to hand him off, don’t know if North has been asked is version ?.
    Mountain out of a molehill anyway, I think North was entitled to a bit of over celebration after scoring such a great try in a test match, some people need to get a life !.

    1. “By that stage in the sprint, I had so much adrenaline pumping around my body that I raised my hand up, but I meant no disrespect to a brilliant player. I just got caught up with all the emotion.”

  17. Personally I don’t see the difference between this and patting or rubbing another player’s head when you get the decision after a ruck, scrum or maul goes your way and you get a penalty. We see that going on all the time and no-one complains about it. It’s all part of the psychological battle on the pitch these days.

  18. As isolated incidents, there is nothing different, both are wrong and have no place in the game.

    Now to lo at the wider story.

    I had heard that Brock James has decided to pat Armitage on the head when clermont scored, and Armitage waved to “get revenge”. This does not make the action better, but it does shed a little bit of light on the situation.

    With the North incident. He apologised straight after the game, instead of trying to have a public argument with a former player. This would suggest he knew it was wrong, and it was just something from the heat of the moment.

    All in all, it’s all wrong really though.

    And before people start going “yeah but he’s a nice guy, while the other bloke is a prick” let’s not forget, that the North family have a bit of form with inappropriate celebrations when it comes to tries. After all, North Senior invaded a pitch to join in celebrations. Now-a-days this is an arrestable offence…

  19. I thought it started as an attempted fend and turned into a point myself – nonetheless he’s apologised so that should be the end of the matter, incredible try though.

  20. When I was watching the match live I saw it as North firstly giving a point to the support runner to get him in position for a pass, or putting his hand out for a hand off (or some combination of both) but as he quickly realised Genia wasn’t going to make the tackle, excitement got the better of him it turned into a point directly at Genia. I saw nothing wrong with it, as North had just run 60m for one of the great Lions tries so he was entitled to be a bit excited.

    On another note.. North’s push on Falua which made him clatter into and injure Barnes.. I saw nothing in this either but did anyone hear the Australian Fox commentator who immediatley claimed he had done it to purposely injure Barnes? I was gobsmacked.

      1. Try these pages for more info

        And no, I didn’t create or join them.

        IMO he’s a chunterer – always quick to bleat at his team mates when something he does goes wrong. I can’t stand seeing that on a pitch. See my previous comments about Mike Brown who I am now told has sharpened up his act so I’m not sure about him anymore.

        1. The MJ & Elvis are alive page has more likes so that must be true as well (and no I didn’t create or join that!)

        2. The point really is that if you were subjected to facebook hate pages, constant abuse in the twattershere, constants criticism from the media, you would probably exhibit a few negative behaviours as well.

  21. I agree with you Chris. Also a similar incident… Farrell got lambasted for clapping a yellow card, it was all over the news… Same thing happened in the Scotland vs SA and not a peep from the media about the SA player.

    Yes the game wasn’t as high profile but most new/blog sites did cover the game.

    1. Certain players divide opinion (often due to being hyped up by the media prematurely) and they then have to carry an “arrogant” tag around with them.

      This division of opinion is what drives the criticisms of their actions.
      Anyone who is a fan of Armitage probably just kept quiet. North (a player who to date has lived up to the hype) has a large number of fans, and therefore most kept quiet.

      The action is the issue at hand, not the player doing it. For me, both are as bad as each other.

  22. Has anyone got a video of this? I am in Australia, and was in Suncorp for the match (incedible atmosphere btw, like nothing I have ever experienced), and I’ve heard nothing about this!? Nothing in the bars or on the news? And Norths try was in the far corner to where I was sat so I didn’t see it!

  23. Neither gesture is a big deal – the media have too much time on their hands, need to fill columns and are too lazy to do proper analysis – so they create cartoon caricatures and write melodramatic nonsense.

    I was reading a column by Dean Ryan in the Guardian and, whilst it was a long way from perfect, it at least got me thinking about tactics and the balance of personalities within a functioning team

  24. Shall we let he man himself have the final say?

    “I got caught up in the emotion of the try. Looking back I feel horrendous for doing it now. I’ll have to live with that and take it on the chin. I’ve had big words from (tour manager) Andy Irvine, which was fun. Rugby’s a gentleman’s game and that shouldn’t be involved in the game.

    “Andy said that to me and I knew it as soon as I’d done it. It’s very difficult to explain your emotions when you’ve scored a try. I know it was out of line with sportsmanship and rugby and feel terrible for that. I’ve had a lot of stick from the boys for doing that and am pretty sure it will go on for a while longer.”

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