Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Oh Danny Boy!

Oh Danny…what is going on!

Rugby has always held something of a pompous moral high ground over Football. A ‘man’s game played by gentlemen’ – none of these ‘diving nancies’. However, as more and more money flows into the Game, worrying similarities are appearing between the two sports.

Foreign owners, an influx of overseas players, big money signings, and talks of spiralling debts have all emerged over the last few seasons. One particularly alarming trend is the emergence of ‘player power’ and Rugby’s first prima donnas.

Now, there have always been arrogant Rugby players…I know a few myself. But as Rugby’s profile continues to rise, so will the wages and so will the media attention, merely fanning the flames of precious egos. Mr Cipriani is part of a new trend in modern professionals, the self-serving prima donna.

Firstly, we need to put things into perspective:
-       Yes, he is worth the hype and is extremely talented. He does tend to drift off and lose concentration but he is an exciting player with ball in hand and great to watch.
-       Yes, he is still a young man who wants to have fun and enjoy his success, He is not doing anything most men his age do every weekend. But he needs to understand, if his team mates aren’t doing it, he probably shouldn’t either!
-       Yes, the intense glare of the media spotlight is focused squarely on him, which no doubt exaggerates the tales of drunken debauchery. But he does seem to court the attention – the cameras don’t follow the likes of Dan Carter with quite such ferocity.

Initially, I was delighted with the decision to join the Melbourne Rebels. I am a huge fan of SuperXV and was convinced that a spell Down Under would not only refocus his attentions but also develop his abilities and make him one of the true greats.

How quickly I was proved wrong. Not only did he irritate his new employers by faffing around all Summer but he ‘forgot’ to fill in his visa papers in time and was several weeks late for training.
Danny Cipriani - misunderstood or wasting his talent?
Having made this mistake, surely any self-respecting human would arrive, tail between legs and keep his head down to show his new team mates he meant business…surely? But not our Danny – he was soon up to his old tricks, cavorting with Skye from Neighbours, of all people, and then swiping vodka from a bar - allegedly. Unbelievable. 

Lesson learnt? Apparently not. He is currently serving an internally placed ban for failing to meet a team curfew. The rumours about his ‘people’ approaching Bath and Toulon may well be spurious, but such sulking petulance would certainly be in character.

Yet, despite  this vitriol – mainly spurred through jealousy of his undoubted talent – I am a huge fan of Danny Cirpiani. He is an electric player and his raw untamed ability is sometimes jaw-dropping. But it is the equally jaw-dropping poor decisions both on and off the pitch which make him such a frustrating player.

On a positive note, the Rugby world is currently dealing with this new breed of player. Clubs have a wonderful if slightly socialistic ‘self-policing’ reputation where the team ethic still reigns supreme and those who step out of line a quickly admonished. The Rebels self-imposed ban, Henson denied a long term contract and Andy Powell leaving Wasps are all good examples of the sum total proving greater than the individual parts.

But how long can Rugby maintain this? Will the age of the big money signings take over as it has in Football, handing all power to players and agents?

I fear for Rugby’s logic when Toulon offer Willie Mason a three year contract when he’s never played a game of Union!

So, in summary, a message to Mr Cirpriani – Danny, cut the cr*p and become the player everyone knows you can be…please!

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