Monday, November 02, 2015

More than the Mollah!

Rugby World Cup 2015 has finished with a bang. As expected, New Zealand’s legendary All Blacks have defended their title and they did it in style with a 34-17 win against their greatest rivals, the Australian Wallabies. The All Blacks have played a level where nobody, including their defeated rivals can argue that they did not deserve to win.

One of the stories gong around social media and focusing on the All Black player, Sonny Bill Williams and gesture of sportsmanship. While the All Blacks were on their tour of triumph, a young boy ran across the pitch towards him and was rugby tackled by a security guard. Mr. Williams handled the matter and ended up giving the boy his winners medal (read more at: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/rugby-world-cup/rugby-world-cup-final-2015-sonny-bill-williams-amazing-postgame-gesture-receives-universal-praise-20151101-gknw91.html)

Mr. Williams won universal praise. The story has been going around social media and everyone has talked about what a great sportsman Mr. Williams is. One of my school friends made the comment that this would simply never have happened in football (Soccer to my American and Australian readers). Unfortunately, my friend is right. As Rugby World Cup 2015 was going on, FIFA (Soccer’s world governing body) was being investigated for corruption. Watch any football match and you’ll find that footballs megastar players rolling on the floor at the slightest tap. By comparison, the players in 2015 were happily getting bashed and with very little complaint and the guys who got yellow and red cards did so for events that were seriously life threatening.

If one were to bring down the comparison to national level, things would be even more interesting, especially if you are English. In England, you have what many people call the best football league in the world. English Premier League clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are global brand icons.  The fame of English players like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney are universal. Yet, despite all of that, England has yet to produce a National team of any significance on the global stage.

By comparison, England’s Rugby players usually do a decent job on the world stage. England has won the World Cup once and been runner up twice. Despite being knocked out at the early stages of this World Cup (losing to traditional rivals Australia and Wales), England’s record in the Rugby World Cup is nothing to be sniffed at. By comparison, England’s football players have yet to get beyond the quarter finals since their semi-final appearance in 1990.

Why is there such a high level of passion and decency from the rugby boys, which seems to be lacking for the boys playing football?

I suspect the reason for this is due to money. The levels of money flowing into soccer are at levels where everyone is forced to try and win whatever the costs. Sponsors and television producers are only willing to put money into clubs that win consistently and clubs need to make more and more money because the players are demanding higher and higher salaries. The players in turn are demanding higher salaries as the increased physicality o the game means bodies wear out faster and careers are shorter.

By comparison there is less money floating around in rugby for it to be corrupting. There was a stage when rugby union’s rules were simply ridiculous. Players were prevented from being paid by the laws of the game. 

However, things have changed with professionalism. Rugby Players can earn a decent salary to do what they want to do – play rugby. Salaries for the top rugby players are not be sniffed at. A good rugby player can earn a couple of hundred thousand Euros a month at top European club (see list at: http://www.therichest.com/sports/other-sports/top-10-highest-paid-rugby-players-in-the-world/?view=all)

However, while the rugby salaires are good, they are nowhere near what their counterparts in soccer get. If an international superstar can earn a few hundred thousand a year, a good soccer player will earn millions in a year. (Look at: http://sporteology.com/top-10-highest-paid-soccer-players-2015/11/)

There’s nothing wrong with being well paid. Sports stars, as my uncle once said, train on average two hours more per day than the average person works. Why shouldn’t the likes of Christiano Ronaldo earn pots of money for being very good at sports, when you have the likes of the Khardasian sisters earnings pots of money by wasting ink in the tabloids?

However, there comes a point when money obscures other things that make the game worth playing. I go back to the comparison to England’s Rugby Players who can give the best in the world a run for their money and the English football team that consist of highly paid brats? What happened?
You could say that the rugby players actually listened when the country called while the football players did not.


It’s something many of us should remember. Money is important and having lots of it is better than not having it at all. However, money isn’t everything and there is such a thing as having too much to extent that you forget everything else that makes life worthwhile. 

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