The Rugby World Cup kicked off with talk of values, integrity and the spirit of the game and we have seen evidence of this just in the first week.
The euphoria surrounding Japan’s win over South Africa brought stories of shared player and fan experiences alike.
On the field also there have been some memorable displays of respect and sportsmanship with players and teams applauding the endeavour of their opponents.
So it is disheartening when stories emerge describing incidents of foul play and poor behaviour acting as a reminder that sportsmanship will always be a work in progress.
This week, Argentinian rugby player Mariano Galarza has been suspended for a massive nine weeks having been found guilty of eye gouging – officially cited as ‘acts contrary to good sportsmanship’ -- in the Rugby World Cup match against New Zealand last weekend.
In the National Rugby League (NRL), an incident from the match between the Cronulla Sharks and South Sydney in the first week of the finals, has highlighted the issue of foul play when Rabbitohs’ player Luke Keary was reported for raking his fingers across the eyes of Sharks’ captain Paul Gallen.
A similar incident has been reported from the Super League in the UK where former NRL player Epalahame Lauaki was sin- binned for eye gouging in the match between Bradford and Hull KR.
In an even more bizarre story this week, from a US High School football match in California, a player has reportedly rubbed an ointment-like substance in the face of an opponent during play, resulting in that opponent leaving the field requiring treatment. Apparently this was not an isolated incident but just another in a concerning rise of poor player behaviour in high school football.
Reports of this type of behaviour are concerning – especially in a high school setting -- and it serves to remind us that sport is a microcosm of life and it is imperative that positive behaviour and attitudes are emphasised and reinforced by those who are looked to as role models.