How Sport should be

Like Michael Howard, I am a Llanelli boy who is a football fan.  I do not dislike rugby but I went for football at a young age.  My primary school and village were more football focused which was very rare in Llanelli – maybe this is why footie is my game but I digress.

I went to watch England vs Wales at Twickenham yesterday.  Not a great game (plus the wrong result) but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Before the kick-off:

And, just after the kick off:

What hit home to me was just how civil all supporters were at the game, including those who had a few pints before the game.  I was amongst England supporters and never felt uncomfortable.  I was comfortable on my way to the ground from the train station and back.  This is how it should be.  It saddens me that this would not have been the case in football (at pretty much any game between any major teams or countries).  Any die-hard football supporter would be in awe at the experience yesterday.  It is how it should be.

I gave ‘Ref-Link’ (the ability to listen to the referee) a try and it was great to hear some of the exchanges.  At no time was there a lack of respect for the man in the middle.  Could anyone image this product being offered at Football matches?

I do not recall a proper debate on why rugby is more civil than football.  The reasons for the differences are more complex than most of us realise.   This would make for a very good TV series.  Do not just compare the differences at this level but it is worth comparing the differences between junior rugby with junior football too (though I believe that the latter has improved over the years) from the behaviour of the parents of some kids in football (I speak from experience as a former referee).

The draw for the 2012 European Qualifiers was this morning.  England have drawn Wales.  I am hugely excited about the draw and am more optimistic than most of the Welsh pundits.  But will Welsh supporters be able to mix amongst England supporters at Wembley?  Will English supporters be able to mix amongst Welsh supporters at the Millenium Stadium?  Almost certainly, there will be home & away sections and stewards will be asked to monitor whether supporters from one of the countries are in the wrong areas.  It is sad that is how it is.

But I am still football first and will enjoy the qualifiers.  I predict that England will win the group and Wales will have a good go at getting second place.

Oh, England deserved to win yesterday and I wish them all the best for the rest of the Six Nations.

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