What’s the end result of the phrase ‘’Game’s gone soft ’’?
The recent return of Tuilagi has brought about a surprising level of physicality the likes we’ve never seen before. Oh wait, that’s not true, many players are well known for hitting fast, hard and occasionally high. The incident itself is not really a big deal but the amount of shit being thrown out of people’s prams is truly a sight to behold. Imagine watching a bloke knowingly set up to tackle on the edge of legality then hit a player on the head. Your response to this event is shouting loudly ‘’ the game has gone soft ’’ at people wanting to change this behaviour.
Is it perhaps the ever-nuanced thought that direct hits to the head never did me any harm? Maybe these are indeed the thoughts of the Egg Chasers podcast, Brian O’Driscoll, and Tom May. Who all proclaimed loudly and proudly on twitter that the game has indeed ‘’ gone soft ’’ or as has become a rather stupid catchphrase ‘’let the boys play’’.
The idea that rugby, an intensely physical and complex sport, should be wholly grateful for its dangerous and chaotic image to broader audiences is insane. These are audiences that we are desperately trying to attract, to ensure sustainability in bigger markets and our sporting stars should not be advertising in this way.
Maybe we should capitalise on this international image by posting footage of players taking massive hits to the head whilst the crowd cheers loudly that their concussed player is the hardest of them all. This would finally prove once and for all that rugby is indeed the better and harder sport vs American Football and we would then take over the whole American Football player base on this knowledge alone.
Truly though, is this phrase looking to galvanise a new fan base or even a new player base to enjoy a form of blood sport? Where injuries are celebrated and you grit your teeth, play through the pain and run the risk of life-changing brain damage? Truly magical thought processes going on here fellas, I can’t applaud you enough.
Maybe we should just fully embrace this more complex version of bare-knuckle boxing and be done with it all. Why pretend that rugby is about various complex skillsets alongside physical competition when you can just hit each other in the head repeatedly for 80minutes.
Now, as you scream at your computer screen or mobile device ‘’shut the fuck up you soft cunt’’ maybe take a second to realise that rugby needs to adapt and quickly. We have a player welfare crisis on the horizon, in fact, we could well be in the swell already. (*hur-duh* how overly dramatic amiright guys)
Elite players are playing far too often with too few breaks. With more games comes increased injuries and with increased injuries comes an increased danger. Something will have to give, especially in England where there have been increasing talks towards ring-fencing the top tier. With a look to control the number of games played and reduce the need to fight for every point at the expense of players health and wellbeing.
Whatever your complex thoughts are on ring-fencing, injuries, high tackles, head knocks and HIA. If you have ever uttered the phrase ‘’ the game’s gone soft ’’ with sincerity then fucking get in the bin because we don’t need you at the table whilst the rest of us are trying to have an informed conversation.