Rugby League players are people who have decided to play a game/sport and they have every right to do so. Those who reach an elite level of the game have a proven ability to play and rightly deserve to be regarded as great players of the sport. But that is all they gain by playing the game. They don’t automatically become role models and the behaviour of many players over the years has shown that any attempt to prove them so is clearly ridiculous.
Being a great sportsmen doesn’t make you a great person. Being a great sportsmen doesn’t make you a hero – it is in the end only a game and you have not proven yourself to be an exceptional human being. A number of exceptional human beings have played rugby league, but it was not their association with rugby league that made them so or made them a role model.
Observers of the game of Rugby League can be forgiven for thinking that there are many modern players of the game who come nowhere near the position of being a role model, exceptional human being or even a decent human being. Indeed these descriptions may be beyond a number of those playing the game and the behaviour of players at a recent ‘Mad Monday’ event involving the Canterbury Bulldogs may only confirm this in the minds of many. Others defending the players ‘right’ to privacy as a defence for their offensive behaviour may very well also fail to reach a standard of decency that many fear is lost to so many players in the current rugby league playing generation.
The link below is to an article reporting on the pathetic response to the offensive comments made to a female journalist following the Canterbury loss to Melbourne.
Finally the NRL is taking an extremely tough stand on players that breach their contracts. Sonny Bill Williams, as I mentioned in an earlier post today, has walked out on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs to play rugby in France on a 2 year $3 million dollar contract.
The NRL is threatening to ban Williams for life if he takes up the Rugby Union contract in France and have also appealed to the Rugby Union authorities in France to not allow Williams to play union until such time as his current Rugby League contract runs its normal course.
Understandably his Canterbury team mates are in shock and extremely disappointed in Williams. They believe he has let them all down, especially since he left without any warning.
One of Rugby League’s big names, Sonny Bill Williams, has abandoned the Canterbury side to which he is bound by contract to sign a two year deal with a French Rugby Union team, Toulon. The deal is said to be worth $3 million dollars.
There are a number of things that I find disturbing about this whole situation for Williams and I am by no means a Canterbury supporter. I support the Parramatta Eels and I am something of a ‘sworn’ enemy of the Bulldogs since the great Eels and Bulldogs encounters of the eighties grand finals. Yet I can only imagine the disappointment that loyal Bulldogs supporters must be feeling after Williams flew out to France without even warning the club to which he is contracted.
Firstly I believe Williams to be overrated, though to be fair he does on occasion show brief glimpses of promised brilliance, yet these displays are few and far between.
There is also the very public spat that he had with some Bulldogs players that worked out to join such teams as the Roosters when the Bulldogs club was in the middle of some very public troubles. Williams was the very outspoken champion for Canterbury. However, his latest actions can only demonstrate that of a complete hypocrite.
The Sonny Bill Williams walkout once again displays the apparent disregard with which contracts are held in the NRL. There appears to be no real intent in many players to honour contracts which they themselves have signed. Surely it is beyond time for a contract breaking player to be held accountable for breach of contract and surely Sonny Bill has plenty to answer to in this regard.
There is also the gutless side of this whole situation. Sonny Bill heads off to France without even telling Canterbury of his intentions, let alone his many devoted Canterbury and NRL fans. It really is a childish and disappointing display by one of the games big draw cards.
It is believed that Canterbury have placed the Williams case in the hands of its lawyers and all the best to them I say.
Would it have been different if Canterbury were going better in the NRL competition this year? Perhaps if Williams was a team player it could well have been so.