There is a large mass of grey matter surrounding the most important aspects of the games rules and if these aren’t darkened or brightened accordingly soon, our game may suffer irreparable damage.
It is to do with the phrase, “true spirit of the game.”
This phrase is mentioned only twice in the rules, but those two mentions are in very important sections.
The first mention is to do with broken tackles:
Where the player in possession is brought to the ground, a tackle is not effective if the hold on the player in possession is broken before he is grounded. Before allowing play to proceed, referees should be sure in their own minds that the tackle was indeed broken otherwise the tackler who, playing in the true spirit of the game, releases the tackled player immediately he is brought to the ground, may be unfairly penalised.
The second mention is in the definition of misconduct:
(i) behaves in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game.
Now I’m sure many of you believe there is no grey matter here, but my thorough search, has shown there is a significant problem here.
Not once in the entirety of the document is the “true spirit of the game” defined. Herein lies the grey matter.
What exactly is the “true spirit of the game”?
One man’s definition could be argued against anothers. Whose definition can be regarded as the most authoritive and thus, legally binding definition?
All these questions have never been asked, prior to my previous paragraph. Because they’ve never been asked, it can be wisely assumed that no one knows the answers either. This again is true, unless there is an answer which I’m not aware of, then in that case, it may be false, unless that answer is in fact in agreeance to my answer which would mean my answer of true would stand to remain as true.
So the first way to work out a definition for the phrase “True spirit of the game,” one must look at the key words.
There are only two key words in the phrase, ‘true’ and ‘spirit’. Some would argue that words like ‘of’ and ‘the’ are more important as they help join sentences together, except for this one. But for the purposes of this article, I’ll have to disagree.
True adj. 1. in accordance with fact. 2. real or actual 3. accurate. 4. loyal
Because the word true means factual and real, would imply that the definition for the ‘true spirit of the game’ does actually exist somewhere. The word true is an allusion to this definition. Where is it though?
Spirit n. 1. the character and feelings of a person rather than their body. 2. a supernatural being. 3. typical character, quality or mood. 4. (spirits) a person’s mood. 5. courage and determination. 6. the intended meaning of a law etc. 7. strong distilled alcoholic drink.
So it seems spirit could be a number of things, it could be an alcoholic beverage, or a ghost, or a mood, or a characteristic of the mind.
Possibly it’s a mixture of all of these. A moody ghosts’ alcohol inspired characteristic.
Actually, that sounds like nonsense.
The term ‘spirit’ seemingly applies to a person’s character and feelings. Again we have grey matter. Let’s have a look at just one player’s perspective on this phrase, to show how it can be easily misconstrued.
John Hopoate – repeatedly stuck his finger up the ‘door region’ of opposing players. The fact he did it repeatedly and with intent every time, shows that he felt it was quite fine to do so and in his opinion, in the ‘true spirit of the game.’ As it turned out, he was wrong.
The simple fact that players are continually suspended and penalized every game, every week, every year, is a sure sign that no player or coach knows what the ‘true spirit of the game’ actually is.
The fact that the public are puzzled every week by referee decisions, shows that they don’t know either.
The fact referees make puzzling decisions shows that they don’t know.
The fact judiciaries, at times, hand down inconsistent verdicts shows they too, are at a loss.
It is pretty clear that no-one knows what the ‘true spirit of the game’ actually alludes to.
Not even I know!
Until this grey area is fixed up, we’ll all have to continue struggling with stupid decisions by players, coaches, referees, judiciaries and the like.