Rugby, thuggery, assault, bad intent. vs CONCUSSION – DEPRESSION -DEMENTIA, etc.

Probyn column: Dylan Hartley a hard man? Not with his record (

Good morning Sir Jeff,

Over here in Not-so sunny Sydney, Monday 19/07/21 (with sparrows @ 4.30 AM) – Please receive my apology for just finding and reading this article of yours from 26/08/2020.

Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly concur with you. Must confess have never seen DH playing nor have I met him. (Here is me braggadocios moi). When I was in England last time 2012, launching my book with auspices of Sir Ray Williams OBE (RIP), Mr Philip Keith-Roach and several other rugby stars of unquestionable conduct on and off the field, we had a wonderful lunch at the East India Club, when Micky Steel-Bodger was still distilling his own G&T’s and the occasional Single-Malt.

That was the intro, to say have not been in the UK for close to 9 years. Nonetheless, I am writing to reinforce your point from a non-specific and no names observation (temporary amnesia). In my 21 years as a player and since 1977 as an International, I have seen many ‘cats’, particularly in the front-row hiding behind their pack and taking advantage of defenceless unfortunate ones.

Yes, you know well things on tour may pan out differently than at home with family and friends, etc. When travelling you may have ‘the good days’, ‘the bad days’, also ‘the new days’. In 1984-1987 with the Wallabies, we used to deal with ‘indiscipline’ and ‘antics’ on and off the field in-house, our own backyard.

‘On tour’ for 8 or 10 weeks there are plenty of opportunities to muck up, yet most of them are may be justifiable (to a point). The only explanation for sabotaging the team smooth running, and your own career is that being in each other’s pockets may provide wonderful times but also the occasional brain explosion. Therefore, the anonymously selected PDC (Player Discipline Committee) used to deal with misdemeanours at closed doors.

Please allow me for a few seconds to draw a parallel between the PDC and nowadays ‘Leadership Teams’. Man, on the field you have no time for ‘corroborees’ (talking sessions held by aboriginal elders from ancestral times in Australia. Rugby has always been compared with another ‘vertical’ institution the Armed Forces. The Captain, Vice-Captain and may be one of the oldies who is ‘on-fire’ on the day, do look after doing-undoing and re-doing as changing the strategic direction of your attack and defence. Also you need to adjust to the three variables (Referee, Weather and Opposition’s tactics and strategies), and certainly not the Coach who is so far away from the action. However, coaches and ancillary staff (another 15 of them) are flat-out justifying and protecting their salaries with more talk-time so they are seen as ‘doing-something. They also have families to feed!

In the subject of FAIR PLAY 2021, non-existent in some corners, I would URGENTLY like to see World Rugby seriously and professionally address the huge problem with TACKLING vs SHOULDER CHARGE. There are three points that from my perspective must be reviewed and rectified

RUGBY TACKLING, is the action of intercepting an attacker with both arms and body ONLY below the armpits, anything else must defined as SHOULDER CHARGE, with a Red card.

INTENT, your action of shoulder charging reflects bad intent, by being outside the Laws this must be called and dealt as ‘assault’ in a Civil Court. Intent to maim, simply takes you off the field and it attracts a 99 year suspension for all positions in the rugby union game. This include President, Chairman, Owner, etc. Not fit for purpose.

THE CORRECT TECHNIQUE? Coaches must train exactly as it should happen on the field under the arm pits and with both arms.

CONTINUITY (Principle No 3) AND THE SURPRISE FACTOR (interlinked), are achieved by stopping or reducing the stoppages. This includes the referees’ chatter with players, linesmen, and TMO officials.

SCRUMMAGING, cut the lectures or tactical voices (use it or lose it), slow down the engagement until both packs are square and steady. Only one command is needed (Pack). Scrums must not be re-packed more than once (there you have it, one scrum = two goes maximum) Play-on!

ON-FIELD CHATTER, cut the captains’ chatter, stop questioning the referee to obtain some pitiful advantage for your team (you are not a politician). You are a player and the captain of the other 14 players of your team. Referees need more ‘discretion’ for their interpretations, they are not computers, their job must be simplified and elevated to THE BOSS FOR 80 MINUTES… “they are always right especially when they are mistaken”)

Back to those little secret benevolent mafia-like groups. I was in the group of 5 o 6 self-appointed Custodians of the Game and the Team. We were the necessary filter that prevented that infamous trip to see the Head Coach or the Tour Manager (fraught with the danger of a career truncation and public shame. In closing, to me, it is unforgivable to ‘cash-in’ over dubious deeds and un-gentleman ‘assaults’ of defenceless players on the field.

JEFF, we the 60 something must take control of the strategic destiny of rugby union throughout. From a gratis/pro-bono engagement, and supervise those who are in paid executive position, still in the ‘rat-race’, who by definition cannot see their belly button.

Cheers Big Fella.

Sydney 19/07/2021

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