Imagine Rugby Blogs

Is rugby heading the way of football?

Henson - good or bad for rugby?

Posted Sep 16, 2010 by Jeff Dawson

Gavin Henson

I have a question for all you rugby fans out there – do you think rugby is heading in the same direction as football has over the last 10-15 years?
The reason I ask is purely because of a series of recent events. Let’s look at the ‘Bloodgate’ affair for starters. Would this have happened in rugby 10 years ago? I doubt it. But as money starts to play a major part in the sport, will rugby end up in a similar situation to football with players cheating to win their team extra territory, possession or points?
Obviously there are cases of misbehaving in every rugby match – high tackles, eye gauging, collapsing of scrums, tripping etc but these get punished by the officials. However, I wonder if players and teams/managers will find ways of  ‘bending’ the rules in their favour more often like they have with the ‘Bloodgate’ affair. I know the offending parties have all been punished in this one, and rightly so, but do you think this is the way the sport is heading?
Also, we now find rugby players getting more press than previously. These guys now have tabloid exposure and people like Gavin Henson seem to be exploiting it. He is currently taking part in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, despite the season being in full swing and having recovered from an injury, and just finished reality show 71 Degrees North. Maybe this is an isolated case or maybe it’s a sign of things to come. I, however, hope that it’s a one-off.  Now, I feel sorry for him over the break up of his relationship with Charlotte Church, but how many rugby players in the history of the sport would sack off competing on the rugby pitch to take part in the charity dance show? Few, if any at all. And I’m not mocking dancing, I do it myself so now it can be challenging. My point is that he’s a rugby player and at 28 should be in the prime of his career not dressing up and doing the Cha Cha!
Henson also seems to be keen on walking out on his contract but current employers Ospreys have said this isn’t going to happen. I like their stance. Contracts are put in place for a reason and people should honour them. If he is able to walk away, this may lead to rugby contracts becoming as worthless as football contracts. A bad way for any sport to go.
The drama and saga surrounding this talented, but slightly misguided, centre/fly-half is likely to rumble on until we get an answer about where he is going to be playing rugby. I for one hope this happens sooner rather than later.

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