By Alan Dymock
RANKING SOMEWHERE between Jeremy Clarkson slugging Piers Morgan in the dish and the break up of Atomic Kitten, most rugby fans recoiled in utter disgust when the news of Kurtley Beale windmilling teammates broke.
It was the latest instalment in the misadventures of the Three Amigos, Australia’s oft-lambasted pantomime villains Beale, Quade Cooper and James O’Connor. This time, though, things took a serious turn with reports coming out that Beale had been involved in a fracas with his own captain Gareth Delve before coming to blows with winger Cooper Vuna. Since, both Beale and Vuna have been sent home from the Melbourne Rebels tour. On separate planes. Disciplinary action is sure to follow and that raises doubts about Beale’s participation in the upcoming Lions series.
This got us thinking: has rugby had many more perplexing fights in recent times?
Things can get heated when there is a relegation battle going on. That’s rugby. But in 2010, after Worcester Warriors had been relegated thanks to a 12-10 loss to Leeds at Headingley, something rather odd flared up.
A scrap between the fathers of teammates Chris Cracknell and James Collins erupted after Collins’ father allegedly insulted Cracknell, who had been replaced by Collins, in front of the man’s dad. A fight began and Cracknell pulled Collins’ father over the advertising hoardings before the two players squared off.
Don’t hit my son!
In the midst of a 2011 Basque derby between Biarritz and Bayonne in the French Top 14 international number 8 Imanol Harinordoquy was beset by flailing Bayonne boys.
Cue Super Dad.
His father Lucien hopped the ad boards and tore onto the pitch in an attempt to duff up some assailants. He was sat on the dirt by scrum-half Benjamin Boyet, but it was too late. Lucien had already struck a blow for frustrated fathers pacing touchlines around the globe.
Although this was on the pitch, this unprovoked attack was so vicious that it had to make the list, if only to show rugby’s darkest side.
Forever a stain on Lions history, the Waratahs full-back Duncan McRae unloaded 11 punches on the stricken O’Gara. It was an incident that saw the player banned for seven weeks while pressure mounted for the thug to get the sack from his franchise. Meanwhile O’Gara was left with a burst pouch beneath his left eye. It was as disgusting an incident as you are likely to see on the field.
Team, um, mates?
In 2008 Wasps colleagues Danny Cipriani and Josh Lewsey clashed during a defensive drill. The young fly-half was said to have hurled threats at Lewsey on the training paddock, but as the row intensified Lewsey, not known for taking a backward step, let fly with a swift combination.
Cipriani was knocked-out.
There are always bust-ups on training grounds and more often than not they are brushed under the carpet or they mean very little. With these two characters, though, there was something that appealed to the carnivorous tabloid fans. Luckily, Kelly Brook appeared to be on hand to nurse suffering Cips back to health.
At the end of an arduous 2009 campaign the players of Bath and Harlequins decided to let off some steam. The problem was that the two teams held piping-hot team days out in the same area of London and eventually they ran into each other in Fulham.
The two sides had lost out in the semi-finals of the Premiership the day before, with Quins falling to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham and Bath losing out to eventual winners Wasps.
Everyone lost out again after this fight, though. Lots of embarrassment; a stone-cold Aussie second-row (the rumour being that Justin Harrison felt compelled to move back Down Under after being flattened by a Quins punch), and enquiries all round.
It was a case of two teams trying to let off steam, but landing in hot water.