Adam Hathaway, rugby correspondent of The People is ready to stand Jim Mallinder a round after his statement this week and wonders why we bother having Television Match Officials at games.
It is with great regret that RugbySpy has to inform its followers of an unprovoked outbreak of common sense in the world of rugby. And we blame it all on Jim Mallinder.
Someone has got to report it so here goes.
God knows we get enough emails that end in the words…….’the club will be making no further comment’, ‘the player is still under contract here’ or ‘we can’t talk to him until January’….
Blah, de blah, de blah and bore on.
One press statement that arrived on Wednesday lunchtime however knocked Fleet Street’s finest right between the eyes. It was a memo of such clarity that we are sure it will never be repeated.
It did exactly what you want when you ask a few questions – it answered all of them, most before we had even asked them – and gave the fans the inside track on what their team’s boss actually had on his mind.
Punchy, direct, straight to the point and manna from heaven for the hacks – it was an almost unprecedented missive in club rugby.
Brilliantly, there was a spirit of Glasnost emanating from the game instead of the normal we-will- review-that-incident on Monday in our video session cobblers.
Let’s hope it is not a one-off.
So trebles all round, as they say in Private Eye, for the Northampton director of rugby Mallinder who said what he thought last week and put it on record. And cheers for that Jim – mine’s a large one.
For those who have been hiding under the duvet all week, Mallinder’s captain at Saints, Dylan Hartley was cited for a reckless clear-out in the Champions Cup game against Clermont last Saturday.
This is reasonably big news. Hartley being the England captain and all that.
To re-cap, Hartley was yellow-carded and then hauled up in front of the beak, missing a vital club training session on Wednesday, before being cleared after yet another morning of being suited and booted in front of more suits.
Mallinder thought the hooker was being victimised because he has form and he didn’t beat about the bush. And he was right, Hartley was in the clear on this one, and Mallinder made it clear in no uncertain fashion and good on him.
And even better.
These quotes were not gathered from some clandestine meeting in a corridor at Franklin’s Gardens, they were put out on e-mail to all media and for all and sundry to see once we had dusted off our typewriters and knocked out the usual nonsense.
And, bless him, Mallinder did not hold back. In fact he was out of the blocks quicker than one of RugbySpy’s greyhounds at Crayford.
He said: “The decision to cite Dylan from Saturday’s game against Clermont was unjustified. This was a run-of-the-mill rugby incident during a high intensity game of European rugby.
“Citings like this do beg the question of whether Dylan is being singled out for what has happened in the past rather than being judged solely on Saturday’s game.
“Anyone who watched the game could see that this was completely accidental – a misjudgement at a clear–out, plain and simple.
“When we should be preparing for a crucial league game against Wasps this Saturday, we have instead been distracted by what we believe was an unwarranted judicial hearing.”
Come on Jim, tell us what you really think. And there is a lesson for every PR person making a living out of sport, any sport.
It is not rocket science….if a coach or a player has a beef then spit it out. Mallinder had a T-bone-sized beef and he put it out there.
It is not always like this. Eddie Jones puts his thoughts out there for sure and Dai Young, Rob Baxter and Mark McCall amongst the Premiership big dogs tell you, and the readers, what they know. Some don’t – and you know who you are.
It works both ways. If Coach A has something he wants to say about a team coached by Coach B in the build-up to a match then the best way to do it is by telling a reporter. Then the reporter will tell Coach B what Coach A said and so it goes on and the verbal tennis will be played out in newsprint.
It used to be so much fun.
A million years ago, ok in October 2003, there were three English hacks at a hotel in Brisbane, a few Aussie ones and a couple of camera crews.
England, who were soon to become world champions, were in Perth but some of us copped for covering the other end of the story at the early stages of the World Cup. It wasn’t a bad gig and the Daily Mail’s current correspondent even got a round in.
The Aussie press had been hyping the war of words between someone called Clive Woodward and someone called Eddie Jones. And maybe some of us English scribblers did a bit to put some petrol on the flames. But hey, ho.
Jones, and it was him, was then the coach of the Wallaby team that would later end up on the wrong end of Jonny Wilkinson’s right boot on England’s night of nights in Sydney.
And Jones had an agenda.
And he knew the best way to get it out there, and possibly in the minds of referees, was to talk to the hack pack. Jones also knew that the Aussies were not going to play England for the best part of a month, if at all, but he had something to get off his chest.
It was a bit of a nothing week, the Wallabies would go on to beat Romania 90-8 at Lang Park, and Lang Park it is despite the ridiculous renaming of it, that Saturday, but Jones had bigger fish to fry.
So, Fast Eddie produced some video footage of what, at the time, was called England’s truck-and-trailer tactic. Basically Woodward’s team had a decent set of forwards and a more-than-decent rolling maul. They showed that when they shoved the Wallabies back about 40m in the Melbourne summer Test of that year and Jones was running scared. So he told us all about it.
We had a story, Eddie had made his point – everyone’s a winner.
In 2001, Woodward had stormed into a post-match press conference after his England team had beaten Australia 21-15 at Twickenham and succeeded where that summer’s British & Irish Lions had failed. Happy to talk about the game Clive? Was he heck.
Instead he went on a massive rant about some comments made by Rob Andrew in that morning’s papers. But it all worked out. Woodward had got his gripe out, the press had a story and everyone was a winner.
But in recent years we have become used to the Mogadon brigade saying they can’t criticise referees, so-and-so has not been concussed, the winger will definitely be fit for next week and we know Saturday’s match will be tough and we hope we win. Most of it is utter horse manure and completely unusable in the papers.
Mallinder broke this mould by having a crack at the ludicrous disciplinary situation in rugby and he told us what he thought. And guess what? It got in every single national paper.
It was brilliant and long may it continue.
In the ridiculous world of rugby union Mallinder will probably get a slap on the wrist for saying what is really troubling him and sticking up for his skipper. If he gets fined, RugbySpy will be digging deep and putting the first tenner in the pot.
Refereeing rugby has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. A million laws, 30 blokes trying to kick each other into the middle of next week and the home fans on your back.
So you need all the help you can get.
All that makes you wonder why Luke Pearce, who was refereeing the Northampton game against Wasps, didn’t take a peek upstairs at one incident on Saturday.
Dan Robson, the Wasps scrum-half, did his best impression of a high wire circus act to avoid going into touch as he made mugs of the Northampton blind side maul defence before half-time.
He touched down but Pearce disallowed the try because his assistant referee, touch judge to those of a certain vintage, thought that Robson had his foot out of the field of play.
Video technology was available. And although your columnist’s tent is firmly parked in the get on with the game camp Pearce dropped a right old clanger then.
On the replays, available to everyone with a phone in their pocket at the ground, it was clear as day that Robson had not put a foot in touch. It was a try all day long – a proper Mark Cueto 2007 World Cup final job. Not that we are still bitter about that.
And it could have been a very significant try. Wasps came into the game on the back of four straight Premiership defeats and a knock back at their new neighbours might have had the board pressing the panic button.
All Pearce had to do was go upstairs and the five-pointer would have stood.
All’s well that ends well and all that baloney – Wasps ran out comfortable winners – but the technology, like in cricket, is there to stop the howlers occurring.
And this was a howler with knobs on.