Should we rid the game of personalities like Danny Cipriani or are they part of what rugby has to give? Rugby at it’s core is an inclusive sport offering different ages, body shapes, genders and personalities the chance to create a club, team or group and play what is a great game. How differing the individuals are is part of the attraction of the game, it works and has worked well for years, why change it now?
Players like Danny Cipriani divide opinion. So often we hear how individuals like this can’t survive in successful team environments. They do though and some flourish. It’s more that the sport has to find a way to deal with their inclusion, don't find reasons to exclude them. Rugby and sport in general would be a stale place if every player and character was the same. Granted, players need to set standards and there is no doubt that the majority do. There will always be the odd one that step out of line from time to time but we can't castigate them, especially when details of how innocuous certain situations have been emerge. Take the details of issues that arose in Jersey recently. It would seem, according to the reports and the details given in court, that we would probably see incidents like this across the UK fairly regularly? Similar examples happen in towns and cities every weekend do they not? Should it have been any other player, not Danny Cipriani, the media vultures might not have been circling from the outset.
All sports have characters. To curb and confine them, force them to ‘fit’ in, would mean the game loses a huge amount. It would change the game, not for the better either. George Best, Kevin Pietersen and Eric Cantona might be names in many conversations when it comes to the best in their professions. The moment you shackle these individuals you would no doubt affect the sportsmen they were on the field. On field performances would be affected. It’s personal traits, they are reflected in their performances, performances that gave and give so many so much joy.
Cipriani has entertained crowds the world over and will no doubt continue to do so when the new Gallagher Premiership begins on September 1st for his club Gloucester. He’s fought hard to gain his way back into England contention in what has always been an uphill battle. Yes, he’s made mistakes and his behaviour hasn’t exactly been exemplary but it’s what makes him the player he is and what makes him so important to the teams he plays for and the game itself. Have any of the 'misdemeanours' been that bad?
In true British fashion we create something out of nothing when it comes to the likes of Cipriani, we love someone to talk about. We love someone to create headlines; the papers do anyway! He’s been punished for every mistake he has made, from fines to driving bans, much like many “every day” people would do. We should give him the opportunity to pay his dues and move on. The whole RFU investigation seemed slightly over the top when he had already been dealt with by both the courts and his club. His direct employer. He’s been fined by both the Jersey courtroom and also Gloucester, the matter should have been closed from that moment on, surely?
What would you do with players like this? Are they a positive or negative influence on the game? Let us know what you think. In this case Cipriani has to be seen as an asset to the game, his undoubted talent is clear for all to see, we all want to see him play every weekend. Why do we try to ostracise players like this rather than understanding their characters and allowing them room to be the people they are?