Sportsmanship is valued in all sport, but it seems to be particularly valued in Rugby as it can often be referred to as a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen. In the recent Rugby World Cup, an illegal tackle was thrown by Canadian Josh Larsen against South African Thomas De Toit during a tournament game. The hit resulted in Larsen being given a red card and ejected from the game, he was later given a three game suspension as well.
However, it was not the red card that sparked news headlines as a red card is not an uncommon occurrence at such a high level of play. It was Larsen’s decision to go into the South African dressing room after the Canadian loss and apologize to the entire South African team for his illegal tackle. Larsen’s apology was welcomed with open arms by the South African team. His apology showed a great amount of personal character and bravery on Larsen’s part.
It is traits such as bravery and good sportsmanship that sports such as rugby often aim to teach. In fact, one of the main reasons rugby was introduced into the sporting world and public schools was to help teach young men strong character skill such as kindness in winning and humanity in failure. It is the ideologies that we learn in sport that teach us how to view the world and the best ways to react in situations. Because rugby so often highlights the importance of good sportsmanship and never holding a grudge off the field, it seems a wonder there are not more stories like that of Larsen’s.
Many rugby players can often be heard telling stories of meeting up with their opponents post-match for some exchanged niceties and maybe a few drinks as well. Is the socialization of rugby players different from players of others sports? Why is it that such a brutal sport highlights the importance of compassion off the field? Are other sports doing just the same and don’t get the recognition? Further investigation on these question would be pertinent.