Rugby v Football


Sat here with a glass of my best friend’s wine and the Harlequins – Wasps match on TV and something occurs to me. Rugby referees are better than Football refs.

Now my opinions on which is the better (professional) sport are well known, but the situation with the refs is a separate one – however, there’s got to be something related between the reasons I think rugby is a better pro sport and why the refs are better in it.

Don’t get me wrong, rugby players whine about the ref a lot – for all sorts of reasons, but what you don’t hear is the constant complaints about game-turning, glaring errors. In football, as shown recently, you’ve got managers and players criticising the ref on TV, making carefully considered comments after games to increase the pressure on the officials and get their own view across.

Basically, there’s no respect in football, and there hasn’t been for years. Even Wayne Rooney complains that he’s being harshly punished for SWEARING ON TV TWO-ODD DAYS AFTER THE FA SAY THEY’RE GOING TO CLAMP DOWN ON BAD BEHAVIOUR?! Honestly, how stupid to you have to be to think there was going to be any other result?

Now I’m sure football refs are better paid and better trained than rugby refs – so what’s the difference? Simple, in rugby, they enjoy their job, and they’re not considered the enemy. There is conflict for certain (especially if you’re an Aussie and have you own interpretation on rules because you actually want to play Rugby League and won’t admit it…) but they work together and want to make the game better. In football the money is all that counts, and no one really loves the game that much – a shame when it’s a beautifully simple, enjoyable one to play in essence.

Last weekend I was watching Quins v Leicester. There was something on Match of the Day afterwards that reminded me of it but I forget what, but some sort of confrontation between ref and players, I think regarding a sending off. In the Quins game, it was a bad-tempered match, at one point Quins had three players off the field, and there were two sendings off (neither of which have complained at all about their bans I think) but one thing stuck in the memory – the ref saying to a player "Oi, you, watching what tone of voice you use with me…" player replies something, then "thank you, now go away." Whatever the exchange was, he sorted it with a sentence and the player knew when he had to step the fuck back.

In football you don’t get that, the refs aren’t treated that way and it’s the fault of the clubs and associations – not the players who’re taught from childhood to act that way. But if you want to avoid the poor decisions like the one in the United – Chelsea game at the weekend? Treat the ref right. Just like players only play well when they’re happy and don’t hate their job/club, the refs are people too and if they go to work thinking they’re always going to be hated, they’ll have a bad game.

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