Last Saturdays rugby encounter between Royal and St. Thomas was reported in the Sunday Times with a photograph captioned 'Not Done'. Now that is clever photography. The astute photographer did a good job and must be congratulated for the work 'Well Done'. It’s his photograph that led me to write these lines.
The offender in the picture is not the player who had to pay the price of being sent out of the field. After the touch judge reported the incident to the referee, the two of them took a long time to determine who the offender was as they were not sure of the man.
The time they took to deliberate the decision showed clearly that they were unable to pinpoint the offender though an offence had taken place. Then of course the decision came and the player wearing the number assigned to the wing three was penalised.
He in fact was playing fly half and was nowhere near the place where the incident took place. Now that is speculating and clearly 'Not Done'.
The referee and the touch judge did well to identify dangerous play. That was ‘Well Done'. But that they did it being unsure of what the real truth is 'Not Done'. Later another Royalist was sent off the field for a similar offence. The offender was clearly identified and penalised. Again 'Well Done' by the referee.
The offending player, more than anyone else, must have known that it was he who did it.
It would have been not just ethical but also graceful and honourable if he had admitted to his momentary lapse of concentration and taken the punishment. Had he done so he would have taken the venom out of the incident and even earned the qualified sympathy of the spectators too. But he did not do it.
And that is 'Not Done' Believing what the photograph says is true, in a lighter vein, let me tell you this son - the real offender.
If you had done what was right, sometime in the future, when you will be relating the great moments you had on the field as a Thomian to your grand children surrounding you, you could have spoken proudly of this moment and even boasted about it. You could have even called the act chivalrous. But you did the wrong thing and thereby missed a unique opportunity.
There may not be a second chance coming and don’t even try creating a second chance. For then you will be relating the story to a few inmates tucked away in a cell in a prison somewhere.
Or to group of people and doctors surrounding the bed of a young rugby player fighting for his life in a hospital somewhere.
This photograph lays bare the absence of knowledge of what sport is, especially by the players and the referees. Sport is defined as a particular game, play or amusement pursued essentially for diversion and amusement. Not to win or beat the other side at any cost. "There is no such sport as sport by sport by sport overthrown”.