x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Parisse suspension was right step forward to assert referee power in rugby

The authority of the referee must be unequivocal. It is what makes rugby work.

Sergio Parisse of Italy rubbed the referee the wrong way. Empics
Sergio Parisse of Italy rubbed the referee the wrong way. Empics

Casting the behaviour of footballers negatively in comparison to their colleagues in the oval ball code is a lazy cliche.

Not all professional rugby players are whiter than white and not all Premier League footballers are prima donnas with too much money and too few morals.

However, the prevailing apparatus for disciplining players in each sport does give reason to believe it is only rugby that actually cares about behaviour.

This week, Sergio Parisse, Italy's wonderful captain, was banned for 40 days for insulting a referee in a club match in France.

It does not matter that it was essentially a trifling domestic fixture, his suspension rules him out of all rugby, including the Six Nations.

All for having a pop at a referee. Imagine if the same happened every time a footballer had a go at the man in the middle. Don't worry about introducing a winter break, they would have to cancel the whole season as there would be no players left to play.

Parisse denies the charge, but the message his suspension sends out is clear and correct. The authority of the referee must be unequivocal. It is what makes rugby work. If you have 30 blokes all built between 16 and 18 stone deciding they were the new arbiters, anarchy would be ugly.

When a referee in rugby orders a captain to tell his players to calm down, they do. And usually they say thank you for giving them the chance to. And address them as "sir".

Please, sir, let it continue.

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE