On the day David Beckham revealed he now prefers rugby over the sport where he made his career, our own David Gunn conjures nine reasons for agreeing with the former England captain
Fans can drink at the games
The blanket ban on drinking at Scottish football games is ridiculous. As a society we’ve moved on from the hooligan element of the 70s and 80s and supporters rightly feel they should be treated as adults once again.
There are definitely times and places where alcohol maybe shouldn’t be sold during the 90 minutes of a football game - a Celtic v Rangers match at Hampden, for example - but it goes too far when applied to all grounds.
It used to be that you could enjoy a drink while watching Glasgow Warriors play at Firhill, then go back the very next day to the same ground and be denied the right to repeat the action when Partick Thistle played.
Of course, you don’t need alcohol to enjoy sport, but as a day out experience it’s always likely that fans will want to have a few social drinks before and after. The near two hour break in between drinks can drain you of energy.
Rugby fans don’t have to deal with being treated like children.
Given events this past weekend, we can now add high winds to the list of reasons why a football game can be called off. That goes along with snow, sub-zero temperatures and rain to make the elements a constant threat to football matches north of the border.
Football authorities always cite “extreme weather” behind postponements. In actual fact, most of the time it isn’t extreme, it’s common. Common Scottish weather.
Rugby games can be called off but it really does have to be extreme. Like a pitch so flooded that there’s a danger of a player drowning if he’s bottom of the pile for too long.
Players respect the referee
The amount of abuse dished out to football referees goes too far. There can’t be a game without a referee and yet they are treated as the enemy.
Players routinely get in the faces of match officials and scream at them, which encourages supporters in the terracing and future generations to do exactly the same.
In rugby, players can often disagree with officials, but they do so with respect.
Less diving/feigning injury
If there’s one thing fans of all teams don’t like to see, it’s a player either diving or feigning injury in order to gain an advantage. It’s unsporting and undignified.
OK, yes it does happen in rugby, Blood-gate for example, but on nowhere near the same level or frequency. After all, it’s a game where you want to physically intimidate the opponent if you can. That’s hard to do if you suddenly hit the deck and start wailing like a bairn.
This is tied in with the previous point about referees. Football crucifies its referees despite giving them only one opportunity, in real time, at full speed, to see an incident in question.
Rugby officials have the opportunity to consult the video referee. It means mistakes happen less and the better team wins the contest more often than not.
Football, on the other hand, is stuck in the past, unwilling to implement change that would make the game fairer. The length of time it took for goal-line technology at the English Premier League level to be implemented was incredible. And since it’s been brought in nobody has had a problem with it.
Unless you have come back from a goal down within the last five minutes, there’s something quite unsatisfying about a draw.
We tend to scoff at Americans for insisting their sports don’t have them, but when you consider the truest nature of sport is to win, it’s odd that the most popular game on the planet includes a wrinkle that allows neither team to experience it at the end of a match.
Ties happen in rugby, but the variety and volume of scoring makes them quite rare.
Fans sit alongside opponents
In football if you put groups together from opposing sides they will clash for no other reason than a different colour of scarf.
The partisan nature of football is something that can make it so enjoyable, but it can go way too far with people being hurt or worse at the hands of an opposing fan.
In rugby, once more, fans behave like adults and don’t cause hell just because a person close to them prefers the other side.
There is more than one way of scoring points
Variety is the spice of life.
Football is simple. The ball crosses the goal-line = 1 goal. In rugby, you’ve got tries, conversions, penalties, penalty tries and drop goals.
It means a team can be a score down and still win the game. In football if a team needs a win and is trailing in the final minutes then it’s as good as done. In rugby, if the team trailing are withing six points or less, it’s all up for grabs.
British rugby has an openly gay player
There are gay footballers in the UK. No doubt about it. However, not since the days of Justin Fashanu has there been an openly gay player in any of the senior leagues in Scotland or England.
The reason these players don’t come out is because there is a strong perception the football culture would not accept such courage.
Keegan Hirst broke that particular barrier in rugby and his sexuality has been widely accepted, with the player “overwhelmed” by the support received since his announcement.