So Low, Sour Chariot…

Posted on October 4, 2015

I got a late in the day invite from my friend to watch the rugby last night. For sake of anonymity, I will call him Nick because that’s his name.

Nick basically said what I have felt for some time and that is when England play rugby, it is impossible not to support them because after all, we are English, but when they lose there is sense of personal vindication that is perhaps best kept to ones self.

To be eliminated from a tournament you are hosting at such an early stage is an absolute nightmare for sponsors because in England at least, the World Cup will now pass by, with perhaps a passing interest if Wales or Ireland do well in the latter stages that now seem light years away.

Rugby World Cup

Humiliated: England

However, English rugby gets what it deserves for continuing to allow itself to be dominated by private education, making rugby inaccessible in approximately 93% of schools. That means that out of approximately 8.2 million children, just 575,000 have access to rugby in schools.

Assuming half of those children are female, that would leave around 260,000 boys with access to rugby as part of their education curriculum. Suddenly, England no longer look like the giants of rugby they should be; 93%  is a hell of a talent pool that is going to waste, in my opinion.

When I watched the Wales game in a pub last week, there was a guy in there supporting England, yet he was sneering at Owen Farrell after every penalty or conversion he kicked. He doesn’t like him simply because his father (Farrell’s) is from a Rugby League background, a game that is traditionally northern and working class.

If you want to support your team with social status nagging away in the back of your mind, fair enough, but don’t bleat on about it when you get your noses rubbed in the dirt by a bunch of Boyos from the valleys. For England to be succesful they need to be more humble, because their perceived arrogance motivates the opposition to unprecedented levels of performance, as was the case with Wales last week.

English rugby would be well served to reach out to people more rather than persisting with suffering from a bizarre superiority complex where, foolishly, there is an obsession with looking down their noses at other sports, in particular football, which was, ultimately, where their game evolved from.

Without someone picking up a football and running with it, there would be no Rugby.

All over social media in the build up to the tournament, footballers (who rarely slag off rugby players) were getting ridiculed for being pansies, diving, feigning injury or being thick. It all seems a bit childish to me, especially when I have read rugby tales of blood capsules to feign injury, gauging eyes out, stamping, and worst of all, 16 out of 31 British sportsman banned for steroids being rugby players (footballers have none).

England is so unique that in sport, football is the only game where educational percentage ratio fits, with 7% of English professional footballers coming from private education, with the rest from the state state education system. It is still the working class game but includes the exact percentage ratio of public school children.

20 of the England Rugby team came from public school and sadly, the 2012 Olympics that was supposed to leave a legacy of sporting participation, featured over 50% of public school representation. No other country in the world has such unbalanced levels of sporting success.

If we insist on allowing all the positions in politics that are are associated with sport and education to be dominated by those who are among the 7% and are acting by nature, towards self-preservation and representation, we will go on like this and talented kids will go on fighting a losing battle against the system.

I have seen it in cricket where a kid gets ignored because he is not from the right background and whilst independent cricket and rugby clubs work hard to be all-inclusive, they already know that the kids who are at the private schools have the ultimate head start and it will take a miracle for a state schoolboy to keep up with him.

The class system is so entrenched in our lives that we just accept elitism, making us like no other sporting nation on the planet. We see it as just the way it is, shrugging our shoulders and accepting subservience as part of being British.

I have long been accused of hating private school kids which is a totally untrue accusation but a simplistic one that is easy to make I guess. My beef is not towards individuals, it is simply that if you let such a tiny minority of the education system dominate elite sporting facilities, you are asking for trouble.

If 93% of kids are subjected to learning sport on a ploughed field, or not even having the opportunity to have sport on their education curriculum, we will go on getting bad results and it will only get worse.

Maybe for the 7% who are overseeing sport and education policy, it is better that one of their own represent the country rather than some ruffian from a council estate who has just witnessed his school playing field turn in to a Barratt Homes housing estate?

I certainly saw that attitude with the Owen Farrell hater.

If this continues to be the case, the sweet chariot that swings low, will simply turn sour and crash in to the ground.

It’s crap song anyway.

1 Reply to "So Low, Sour Chariot..."

  • kirsty
    October 6, 2015 (7:07 pm)

    once again you made me laugh and very eloquently described a sad and very true state of affairs. a great combination. keep writing.

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