While the sport of rugby has long enjoyed a reputation of wild brutality, the antics have been confined primarily to the pitch but as of late, a trend seems to be evolving where the fans have become as raucous as the players and are, in fact, turning on them. Ah what has the world come to when those that relish the brawling and brashness of such a game are now seemingly unruly?
In April, it was proposed by the media that fans at the World Cup next year may need to be separated to avoid any kind of undue aggression on the premise that their behaviour could taint the sport and the tournament itself. Tournament officials denied any involvement in such as plot but needless to say, this unleashed a flurry of discontent from thousands of fans who promptly set about to vote against said proposal.
To illustrate one of the antics that brought about speculation by the media for regulating fans in such a way, less than a week after the inflammatory article, a match between Bath and Northampton set about a series of events that infuriated fans to the point of abusing the game officials.
With the game tied, a bad call instigated the necessity to consult with video verification to ensure that the referee had not sidestepped his bounds and once the offence had been deemed accidental, the ref’s decision was turned around and the advantage of the game shifted from Bath to Northampton and the fans erupted in jeers and catcalls. Players and officials walking off the pitch were subjected in insults and other displays of terrible sportsmanship. One player tweeted his disgust of fans via social media.
The group was solely a small contingent of bad apples which unfortunately it left a bitter taste with everyone else at the Rec and this wasn’t the first occasion for such a vehement reaction. Only a month earlier another one of the referees was pelted with cups at the game.
Both players and officials are getting quite annoyed by the involvement of fans on the current level as the feeling is that a game cannot be seen to completion without someone speaking out against the referees, quite frequently through the course of play. This should be expected from time to time as every ref is going to make a questionable call now and again but the frequency seems to setting a precedent and union organizers fear that with popularity of the game growing more widely, ire will escalate as well.
The angst has been compared to that which you might see at a football stadium which has also become distasteful – often by players. Some tend to attempt to intimidate officials and others still creating distractions with falsified offences and while that’s nothing new to the game, ignoring matter would set an ugly precedent of complacency that might look like the actions are condoned.
The behaviour is far from productive and insolent, entitled jeering at games is unacceptable. It is suggested that the best course of action in minimizing it in the future is for players and officials to teach fans by example. While both sides of the situation are equally accountable for upholding values of honour and decorum, the conduct of the professionals will undoubtedly set the tone for the audience environment. It’s time to set the game’s traditions straight and enable enjoyment by all involved.