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Jared Payne row shows values of rugby traditionalists

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Jim Gracey

An interesting aside to the Jared Payne red card controversy opens up a whole, new debate in the comments section of our Belfast Telegraph website.

Under a News section story relating Ulster fans' fury at French referee Jerome Garces' decision to dismiss their hero five minutes into Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final, arguably condemning their side to defeat by Saracens, damnation of the under fire official is not universal.

Many respondents, rugby purists clearly, point out that while the sending-off was unfortunate, game-changing, even harsh, the decision was delivered to the letter of the law as it stands and, as such, should be accepted without further question.

The rugby traditionalists' sense of fair play and respect speaks volumes for their values.

As a late arrival to professional rugby watching after three decades chronicling some of the worst excesses of the round ball game, I marvelled at what I considered the remarkable restraint of the Ravenhill crowd on Saturday night. A smattering of half hearted boos, a brief chorus of 'Cheat' and that was it.

In sharp contrast the 'real' rugby people found the response deplorable... an unwelcome and unwanted side effect of the increased following their game and team now attracts. Those values again and don't knock them.

But the old boys should rest easy. A crowd attracts a crowd and one of the perils of popularity, as the bigger football clubs know only too well, is that where you cannot legislate for the inevitable hangers-on, you can only hope to educate. And from where I was sitting that shouldn't be hard. As boo-boys go, rugby's are still in the amateur era.

Belfast Telegraph

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