Vulgar IPL to rescue rugby?

Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Have you ever seen as much big screen watching by players on the field than in Saturday’s Heineken Cup final between Toulon and Saracens at the Millennium Stadium?

Sure, you can understand players wanting to take a gander at something that saw them penalised, or joining the ref in taking in what the TMO has been asked to look at, and even the replay of tries as they make their way back to the half way line...

But this constant quick check of the big screen, and then adjusting of the hair if they do see their pretty little faces lit up for the world to see, is a horrible habit that is creeping into the game.

In response to a Tweet about it during the game, ex Bok flank Rob Louw, who adds exceptional value on Twitter, asked if the players perhaps had a beauty salon in the changing room at half-time?

Yes it might seem extremely trivial, but as a coach, how would you feel if your props and locks were more concerned with how they look on the big screen than planning the right shoulder you need from a scrum in order to work a move from the base that will exploit the space on the blind side?

It would drive me mental!

Throw in Bryan Habana’s dive to milk a penalty that should have seen him get an Oscar with his medal after the game, and are we not seeing a truly terrifying move towards... swoon... soccer!

People say that the soccer model, where club leads country because that is where the money is, is the only option in the professional era. And that Toulon, who no longer contribute to the French national side given the plethora of mercenaries lured by Monopoly money, are merely providing an early insight into the future of rugby.

Perhaps so. And as a South African it was quite fun to see a host of our players mixing it up in a BaaBaa type environment. But to me, it also seemed slightly vulgar and uncouth.

Rugby is different to soccer in so many ways, but primarily in that the player power lies not in Europe, but in the Southern Hemisphere, and that in its current guise, the national sides come ahead of the club sides.

Surely we are thus still in a position to actually make the call NOT to follow the path chosen by (or inflicted upon) the round ball game?

It would need a ballsy call, though. On the one hand it is good to see French businessman and current Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal’s money in the game, but he would certainly not have made Toulon his plaything had there been restrictions as to how many international legends he could lure to the club.

Will bowing to the power of money force rugby to follow in soccer’s footsteps?

Perhaps cricket are getting it right? It does not come more vulgar or uncouth than the IPL, yet despite the corruption that comes with the obscene amounts of money thrown about in that tournament, it seems to have found its place in the cricket landscape.

How about space being made in the rugby calendar for an IPL style international club tournament that allows players to make real money (and deservedly so, I might add) but then also allows the sport to remain on it’s more traditional path?

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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