Former England hooker George Chuter is riled that diving is creeping into the pro game in the July edition of Rugby World...
THE SAYING goes that ‘footballers spend the whole game pretending they’re hurt, whilst rugby players spend the whole game pretending they’re not’.
Rugby union is an increasingly brutal, attritional game, and players are hitting harder than ever before. It’s a tough game played by tough men.
However, over the past five years we have seen an increasing amount of diving in the pro game. This is not to say that it is rife, or widespread, but simply that it has reared its ugly head.
It can occur when two players are running shoulder-to-shoulder during a kick-chase, when a player has been tackled a fraction late, or when someone wants to draw attention to an act of foul play.
You know the drill – hands flailing, head thrown back, guttural scream emanating to the heavens, body hitting the ground like a sack of spuds. Often, the diver will remain prone for several minutes until action is taken.
And is there a funnier scene in sport than when, having failed to con the referee, a player who seemed, to all intents and purposes, dead minutes before, suddenly rises, Lazarus-like, and continues to throw himself into the game?
Admittedly, with all the pressure to win, players will push the boundaries to gain that crucial sliver of advantage. Of course, I did this time and time again as a player, as did most of my peers. It’s called gamesmanship, and is crucial to success. It is not gamesmanship I am ranting about, more the extravagant lengths players go to achieve it.
If you get bumped off the ball in a kick-chase, bump him back. Show you want it more than him. Don’t dive on the floor and give up any chance you had of getting possession.
If you’re hit late, pick yourself up and get back in the game. And if you get punched, smile at the assailant and trust the match officials/citing commissioner to deal with it. Or smack him back. Not that I’m encouraging violence…
I get slightly embarrassed when I watch slow-motion replays of these sorts of incidents, so goodness knows how the divers feel. Big blokes falling over in agony at the slightest touch is not what rugby is about.