Over-reacting won't help prevent bad behaviour; education will
Roy Masters |
September 2, 2009
RUGBY LEAGUE is a code
of over-reaction. Whenever there is an ''atrocity'' - as the media has come
to describe incidents ranging in severity from urinating in public to
Roosters centre Setaimata Sa allegedly slapping his partner, resisting
arrest, fighting with bouncers and causing malicious damage to an iron gate
- people rush around searching for cause-and-effect
One theory, which has
gained popularity in recent days, is that the two clubs at the bottom of the
ladder - the Roosters and Sharks - are tops in the hall of shame department.
Their poor performance on the field has spread to antisocial off-field
behaviour, reflecting a poor disciplinary structure pervading both clubs …
or so the argument runs.
But the Sharks'
troubles with the police and media watchdogs occurred before the season
began, with Greg Bird's assault charge, Brett Seymour's drunken episode in a
shopping mall and Reni Maitua's positive test to performance-enhancing drugs
coming in March or earlier. The exposure of former five-eighth Matthew
Johns, as chronicled on a Four Corners program, referred to sins
committed in Christchurch seven years
No, the Sharks' equal
last position in the premiership is more to do with long-term injuries, the
absence of an organising halfback, chronic bad luck and, as the NRL conceded
this week, over-reaction by referees.
The Roosters, however,
have had problems all season - beginning with Jake Friend's drink-driving
charge in March, Willie Mason's $2000 fine for urinating in public, Friend
and Sandor Earl charged with assault after a nightclub brawl in June, Nate
Myles defecating in a hotel corridor in July and now Sa's
over-reaction to some of these incidents evokes the Bible's ''Woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!'' After all, some leading citizens have
had a pee behind a pub, or been locked outside a hotel door, naked, in the
early hours, after opening the wrong door.
Rooster boosters will
point to the fact the antisocial behaviour has occurred after matches -
implying defeat has been so self-destroying that the players were forced to
marinate their shattered psyches in 30 shots. Puh-leeze.
Have the Dragons gone
berserk after their three recent losses?
Did the pressure on
the Titans to win every home game erupt when they were beaten by the
Cowboys? Did they cut a swathe through Gold Coast bars?
No, we are entitled to conclude there is a relationship between the Roosters'
poor discipline on the field and what happens after games. If players don't
chase hard on kicks, support each other with the ball, assist in tackles and
keep the penalty count down, they're unlikely to leave the pub early in order
to redeem themselves at the next training session. The Roosters lack an
identity, and that is reflected in overall poor discipline.
While we're into
relationships, there is a far more significant correlation in the NRL: the
linkage between players who have no job or education and their off-field
Former St George
captain Mark Coyne is chairman of the NRL and players' association education
and welfare committee.
''If a player is not
working or pursuing an education, there is a big chance he is doing
something unacceptable to society,'' Coyne says. ''There is definitely a
correlation between the investment clubs are making in education and welfare
and what is happening off the field.
''We did a review of
the bad headlines of players in trouble with off-field behaviour and found
80 per cent of them had no formal education or employment
submitted a report to a recent CEOs meeting revealing a scale on which clubs
were ranked in terms of their expenditure on education and
premiers Manly - privately owned and counting their pennies - devoted least
resources to programs designed to encourage players to seek part-time work
or tertiary studies.
Perhaps the money
spent on the pre-season launch party that led to Brett Stewart and Anthony
Watmough's well-publicised troubles could have been diverted to education in
Coyne was at the
Ensemble theatre with his wife, a counsellor who works with offenders and
parolees, when the Herald called following the Sa case.
''She gives me heaps
of tips on how to handle some of these issues,'' Coyne
Asked what show they
watched, he said: ''The Cow Jumped Over The Moon. It's all about
with the NRL and such an important committee is cause for the Cowboys and
all other clubs to be over the moon.