Saturday, November 25, 2006

Learning from Rugby

The news that UEFA are considering rugby’s rule of only allowing team captains to talk to referees during matches should be welcomed.

The petulance and arrogance of players in surrounding officials and berating decisions is becoming a blight on the game.

Of course football is a passionate game and, with adrenalin flowing and win bonuses at stake, players will lose their heads. That’s unavoidable.

But if you were walking down the street and six or seven young guys started shouting and swearing at you, would you not think it was unacceptable behaviour? Footballers can’t be exempt from the normal boundaries of society.

In fact rugby should be the inspiration for some other rule changes in as well.

How about UEFA making the 10 metre rule that they have already experimented with permanent?

Managers would quickly stamp down on dissent if it was costing territorial advantage and leading to dangerous set pieces.

How many times have you seen the opposition team take turns to kick your star player?

Why doesn’t football follow rugby’s example and allow the referee to tell captains that the next player on their side to commit a foul will be booked? Even if it’s his first offence.

The sin bin also offers possibilities for football. How many games have been ruined by senseless red cards when the player in question would probably have benefited from simply cooling off on the sidelines for ten minutes?

The arrogance that pervades the football authorities is absolutely mind blowing at times. But they have to realise that the game can be improved for the fans if they take on board lessons from other sports.