By Alan Dymock
THE BIGGEST mistake Manu Tuilagi has made this week – yes, we have to specify ‘this week’ because, well, he does have some previous – is that he has made himself a political stick with which to beat David Cameron.
To make things clear, Tuilagi should not be banned as some are suggesting. You are allowed to mock a member of parliament. Indeed, in our society it is actively encouraged. Propping bunny ears up behind the nation’s leader is ill-advised and certainly childish, but was it a paint bucket or a comedy custard pie?
OK, so it was not searing satire or a move motivated by political impulses; he thought he was being impish; one of the lads. However, now he will be a bat with which the Opposition can flog the incumbent government. No support from our athletic heroes, no respect, yada yada yada.
Some will argue that this sets a bad example. Taking the mick out of political leaders before an official photo call is neither illegal nor morally objectionable and while his lapses in discipline during games should be punished, taking away part of his livelihood for a set of bunny ears seems silly.
It’s silly all round. The guy has given himself a lot of grief and while his actions were downright idiotic, making a bigger deal of things makes it all worst.
Of course, silly was the theme of the day yesterday. While the British and Irish Lions where eying paperweights in the PM’s office, Saracens were making mischief of their own by offering fans of Bath full refunds if they attend the match between the two at the weekend and former Saracen and current Bath playmaker Gavin Henson scores a single point.
Churlish? Sure. Funny? A little. Bringing issues of gambling to the forefront of sport, again? Perhaps at an extreme push. Certainly mind games come in here and Saracens obviously feel they can cover the windfall, but the punter will not be out of pocket. Japes all round, hey?
The thing is that poor old Gav just cannot get on with his job. For once he hasn’t thrust himself into the centre of the storm and really if he puts his head down, gets on with his work and scores some points without making a big deal about it we must all take a chance to admit he has done well.
Henson is everyone’s favourite whipping boy, but maybe what he and Tuilagi do on the pitch should be the most important thing for the foreseeable future.