x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Contrition is one thing, acting the part is another for new age rugby players

As soon as Danny Cipriani had issued his latest mea culpa in the newspapers this week, someone was already on his case, writes Paul Radley.

Toulon's full back Delon Armitage scores a try during the European Cup rugby final rugby union match between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon at the Aviva Stadium last week. Frank Fife / AFP
Toulon's full back Delon Armitage scores a try during the European Cup rugby final rugby union match between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon at the Aviva Stadium last week. Frank Fife / AFP

New-age rugby players cannot do right for doing wrong, sometimes. As soon as Danny Cipriani had issued his latest mea culpa in the newspapers this week, someone was already on his case.

"Sorry if I swore that much, my mum's already had a word," the former England fly-half said after an interview that contained the odd – though hardly gratuitous – expletive.

Sorry has been the easiest word to utter for much of the boy-wonder-turned-celebrity's stunted rugby career to date. Acting on it has been the hardest part.

It would be nice to think he is all grown up and reformed after the lows. Best save judgement for the field, though.

He is not the only one with a history of saying one thing and doing another. By way of a preview for the Heineken Cup final, Delon Armitage gave an interview in which he expressed contrition for what had happened in the past. Now the former England full-back wants to be known for rugby, rather than controversy.

That did not last the day, either. Going over for a try for Toulon, he essayed a taunting wave to his marker. It was followed by a tete-a-tete on Twitter, with an ex-international player, now a media commentator. Maybe it was all a fuss about nothing, but the fact Armitage had scored the winning try in a major final was lost in it all.

If these players really do want it to just be about the rugby, they need to help themselves.

pradley@thenational.ae

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