ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 19

Living in the rugby jungle

By Vimal Perera

"Wildlife is decreasing in the jungles, but it is increasing in the towns"
- Mahatma Gandhi

The quote of Gandhi may be considered as an apt reflection of the society we live in. This society consists of many threads that finally make the fabric. One thread is sport. Sport consists of many of the yarns that make the thread .One is Rugby. Rugby is a game supposed to be played by gentleman who value it as a sport and accept the basic principles of building team work, understanding cooperation and respect for fellow athletes .

This schools rugby season has cascaded into a very volatile one. ( Pic by Gemunu Wellage)

However when we measure such expectation against the actual situation one may be inclined to agree with the great Mahatma.

We may lack the courage to admit that it is certainly not happening the way we think and want it to be and we may not be in line with the philosophy in which the game of rugby is played. But to continue without being alive to what is happening around us is a sure path to suicide.

The cradle of the rugby is the schools section. It is here that the basic of the skills are learnt and the sense of fair play and the value of sport are drilled into the minds of the young. Yet what we hear of is not so pleasant. Schools are accused of having violated circular instructions on eligibility. The truth and or the rationality of the instructions are not an issue of debate. The issue is whether a question should have arisen in a game played both to the letter and within the spirit of the laws of the game. Or is it that our expectations are misplaced as more animals are seen as against the numbers of gentleman.

It is indeed sad that these questions should even arise just like other questions that arise when the laws are applied.

A major reason of misbehavior I see is the result of expectation that is weighed against the money that is spent on the sport. It is well and good to have expectation. The issue is: should it be at any cost? Should we be trying to achieve the right thing the right way or try to achieve it any way? The end should be to build a man out of child who can learn from sport the meaning of achieving what has to be achieved in an honest and dignified manner.

A closer look at those accused at violating such norms include those who have at one time or another pointed fingers at others. It also includes those who have thought resorting to use of the animal behavior is the way to get the better of others.Despite the muck in their system they seem not to have learnt and continue to point fingers of accusation at others, It is sometimes a wonder why there is always lament of people not joining the referees society. At any ground you see a number of capable referees in the pavilion. Perversion you would think is their pastime when you listen to comments made.

It is stated that many a spectator is knowledgeable in the laws of the game and is well apt in its nuances. I wonder where people gain such knowledge and training.

The referee’s society printed the laws of the game 2005 and made it available at a nominal price. Other than for the referees who have purchased same there have been sales of only 3 books so far. Am I to believe that all these so call experts get their copies of the laws of the game from the International Rugby Board (I know of a few who have) or they browse and study the laws available on the net. This being a little difficult to accept the conclusion is that they learn from what they hear from others and may not be the same as the law book states. Any fundamental exercise on communication will show that message when conveyed from one to another is always distorted as received by and moves to another. It is therefore such make believe situations that are far from the actual message that leads to behavior more close to the jungles being seen on the fields of rugby.

Hard on the heels of such unacceptable practices comes the news of an inter-company tournament played among the employees of a group of companies being abandoned due to the violent behavior of players and spectators who for all intents must be employees.

The behavior in this situation is a bad reflection on a group defined by the spirit of its people that believes in providing more than a work place comprising a passionate group of individuals. It is therefore part of the corporate social responsibility which they are proud of, to take proper action to rehabilitate such individuals by sending them for appropriate counselling. One of them responsible needs counselling as he has a history of aggressive behavior while yet another who was a spectator had no business to be in the fracas. This should be coupled with an internal search to review the performance of some of those involved who may have let the spirit down by playing those who are not employed in the group. This then will be a meaningful contribution to the environment.

It does seem that the jungle has come to the city and rugby needs to use the necessary protectors to ensure the spirit of the game so valued continues.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.