Rugby World Cup
Dirty and Vicious play
By Adrian Porter
TWICKENHAM, ENGLAND, 20 October 1999 - Rugby is a
rough game. The physical aggression implicit in it all too often
ignites short-fuse tempers which explode into foul play. There have
been glaring instances of lack of self-discipline in several games of
the World Cup tournament since it began in Wales three weeks ago.
it took some thugs wearing the red shirt of the South Pacific island
of Tonga - once known as the Friendly Islands - to dispaly some of the
dirtiest and most vicious play seen so far in the game against
The Tongans particularly disgraced themselves by
tackling English players while they were in the air jumping for the
ball and then heaving them head first onto the ground. This is one of
the most dangerous fouls that can be inflicted on a virtually
defenceless player and, at its extreme, can result in broken necks.
Tongans were almost as lethal with their stiff arm clubbing of an
opponents' neck while they were running at speed. They also seemed to
thrive on jumping on opponents lying on the ground and scraping their
bodies with boot studs.
These "friendly islanders"
were guilty of virtually every dirty play in the book but it took an
unprovoked attack and assault on an English player, who was not even
involved in play, that led to the referee sending one of the Tongans
off the field.
At the start of the tournament, the
authorities laid down strict rules to rid the game of gratuitous
violence and these rules have been rigorously applied. The guilty
Tongans were a disgrace to the game.
In this instance, right
triumphed in the end because, as a result of the sending off, the
English XV faced only fourteen Tongan players and racked up a score
more often seen on a cricket board: 101 points to 10.
equalled the record set by the New Zealanders in their game against
Italy and also saw the English fly-half, Paul Grayson, score a
national record of 37 points in one game.
however, are meaningless when seen in the light of the gross
inequaltiy of so many of the sides in the World Cup. Many of the games
have had as much relevance as exhibition matches.
France : Questionable refereeing
In contrast to the ugly
scenes at Twickenham, another Pacific Island team, Fiji, played in one
of the most dramatic and best-contested games of the tournament. This
was against France in Toulouse. The Frenchmen eventually won 28-19 but
that score could well have been reveresed if the Fijians had not
suffered some doubtful refereeing by the Irish referee, Paddy O'Brien.
most blatant example was his decision to call a knock-on against Fiji
when the French full- back lost the ball in a tackle and he penalised
the Fijian player who had, in fact, picked it up cleanly and touched
down over the try line.
O'Brien also awarded France a penalty
try for no obvious reason after he had ignored a series of
infringements by both packs struggling on the Fiji line.
to then, both sides had fought a good hard game using every tactic in
the book and taking play from one end of the pitch to the other in
their efforst to score.
Another, island team - Samoa - pulled
off the biggest coup of the tournament so far by beating Wales 38 -
31. This was even nore breathtaking because it was a repeat
performance of a piece of rugby history that rocked Wales eight years
ago when Samoa became the first minor team to beat a ranking
At that time, the team was known as West
Samoa and a joke going the rounds was that, if Wales could be beaten
by a side from West Samoa, they'd need divine help if they ever faced
the whole of Samoa. This time round it was the whole of Samoa. The
Welsh must feel jinxed. The pundits had said it couldn't happen again
- but what do pundits know?
The Wales-Samoa tussle saw the
end of the opening skirmishes. Now comes the time for the big, strong
boys to go head to head. The real contest begins with play-offs to
decide which teams will meet in the quarter finals of the tournament.
play offs are: England v Fiji, Scotland v Samoa, and Ireland v
In the quarter finals the winners of these games
will face South Africa, France or New Zealand. Australia is already
down to meet Wales.
Porter spent a working lifetime as a foreign correspondent
for the BBC and other news organisations in various parts of the world.
He writes on rugby and cricket for Culturekiosque.com.
Opening article: Rugby World Cup 1999 : Forecasts
and a Guide to the Game
Rugby World Cup 1999 :
Opening Games Wrap-up
World Cup 1999 : Second Round
Read Adrian Porter's archive articles on the Cricket
Opening article: Domination
is the Name of the Game
Results of 1st Week:
A Commonwealth Row and High Tech
Foul Up Cricketing Traditions
Results of 2nd Week:
Umpires Upset Bookmakers With
Excessive Wide Balls
Results of 3rd week:
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh topple
giants to make "Super Six" round
First week of the
"Super Six" Pakistan
and South Africa in arm-pumping finish
Second week of the "Super
victory from South Africa
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