Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Last Acceptable Prejudice?

England Rugby
I'm well into my big match build up now. I refer of course, not to anything thing to do with the new kevball premiership season which has just kicked off (did it ever go away?), but England v France at Twickenham today.

Warming up by watching Scotland v Ireland as been a bit like watching a replay of England thrashing Wales last week, as the home side's big pack looks, as of half-time, to be strangling the life out of the Irish. Being of partly Scottish descent, I'm delighted to see Scotland performing, especially after some of the well publicised woes of the game north of the border.

More foolishly though, I decided to pass my eyes over the BBC's rugby forum, and was disappointed to say that as well as being frustrated by the piss poor design of the web site, sadly the same mindless anti-English bigotry seems as strong as ever. There are culprits of many nations but it has to be said that a certain, and I would have to say from personal experience wholly unrepresentative, segment of Welsh support predominates.

Several thoughtful posts analysing the England victory last week attracted the usual accusations of 'arrogance', with whining complaints that England were only playing a second string Welsh team (a fact fully acknowledged in most of the original posts). 'Triumphalist', 'boring', 'would never have beaten X, Y or Z'; all the usual bile trotted out, usually by someone who hadn't even taken the trouble to read the more considered original posting. There were clear weaknesses in England's performances and most of the English posts reflected this, but a win is a win, and you can only beat the side in front of you, to trot out a couple of cliches.

I actually don't care about the actual content of the posts per se, supporters of England rugby have heard it for years; it's water of a duck's back. I certainly don't want to see any extension of the powers of the thought police, like the ridiculous investigation into Anne Robinson's alleged anti-Welsh comments. There is a bit of sadness that these perpetual knockers spoil the generally very amicable nature of rugby supporting throughout the world. More than that though, I object to the underlying tone that for some reason, England alone, are not allowed to celebrate their team's victories in the same uninhibited, and yes, sometimes over the top, way as any other nation.

The only time I encountered anti-English sentiment face-to-face, that stepped just over that line beyond good natured banter was also rugby related, when I happened to be in Dublin when Scotland were playing Ireland there in the 6 Nations. After the game the Irish and travelling Scots united in their abuse of the common enemy. I couldn't help find it a little bit ironic considering the the involvement so many Scots in the development of the Ulster situation, a little bit of history that was conveniently forgotten for the evening. Ah well, it was a good night anyway, and as my mother would say, never spoil a good story for the sake of the truth.

Anyway, time to head to the Base Camp, in order to avoid the usual fonts of ignorance at the Mother Ship.

Good luck in the World Cup, to England and Scotland, and yes, to Wales and Ireland too.

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