I applaud an act of sportsmanship by Henley Hawks, at Barnes on Dec 18th. With the score tied on 17-17, last play of the match, Henley were awarded a kickable penalty for an opponent not rolling away. It turned out that the offending player was injured and unable to move. Henley ended the game by kicking the ball into touch. Brilliant.
Last Saturday, while Sedgley were involved in a last-kick-of-match drama at Rotherham, I was watching on TV a similar event at The Stoop, where Quins converted their last-minute try to beat Exeter. Another incident in that game brought memories of one at Park Lane a few years ago.
Just before half-time, Exeter’s Sam Simmons attempted to secure the ball by lifting a Harlequins leg off it, the fairly hefty leg of Joe Marler. At the same time, prop Alec Hepburn lifted the other leg, and continued lifting until it was vertical. Then he dropped Marler on his head. The red card was both inevitable and deserved. And stupid.
I can’t remember which Sedgley players were involved in the incident at Park Lane, but I think our opponents were Preston Grasshoppers. Again, a leg was lifted, a relatively light Sedgley forward using strength to lift a heavier opponent, unaware that a teammate was lifting the other leg. In this case there was no intent, no stupidity, but the result was similar, in that an opponent went suddenly vertical. It looked bad. The referee saw one of the lifters and red carded him at once.
At the disciplinary hearing, the defence was that our player had used only enough strength to lift the leg and free the ball. It was the unexpected addition of the other player that had caused the problem. The opposition player supported and confirmed our man’s explanation. The committee was unimpressed, and both Sedgley players were suspended, even though only one had been accused!
I have always hated committees, even when I was on them. Especially when I was on them.
There is news of next season’s leagues, to the extent that level 2 (the Championship) is now confirmed as 12 clubs. I had been expecting 14. It does mean perhaps fewer promotions lower down the league pyramid than might have been the case. Or the usual promotion and more relegation. Who knows? Perhaps someone does, and perhaps they’ll tell us.
Whatever else happens, let’s hope for uninterrupted play for the rest of 2022, and a happy year for all. We need the pleasure of sport to keep us all sane. Close the schools and keep the rugby! As a former teacher, I think I’m allowed that opinion.