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Some worthy reading

Here are links to two sporting articles spotted on the websites of respectively The Independent and The Guardian this morning (10th October 2015) that readers of the National Rust might enjoy and/or find rewarding.

Not long ago a fellow Rust contributor noted that The Independent seemed to have spent a little money on revamping its website to good effect – we like to give credit where credit is due.

Now I’m becoming a little worried about it. I’m becoming concerned that The Independent‘s powers-that-be have been ‘giving with one hand and taking with the other’ – maybe I’ve completely missed something, but over the last three or four days I’ve been gaining the impression that its new website doesn’t change very much on a day to day basis. Is this because they’ve reduced the numbers of staff, I wonder, or has someone taken their eye off the ball?

In any event, here are the promised links:-


LeagueFirstly, today’s matches taking place in Manchester [the Rugby League Super League Grand Final at Manchester United’s ground Old Trafford and England’s final match in the 2015 Rugby World Cup against Uruguay at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium] offer an opportunity for yet another stark comparison between the two versions of the rugby code.

There’s a fashion for marking centenaries at the moment – WW1 has something to do with it and yesterday Radio Four’s Today programme’s Thought For The Day reminded me that nurse Edith Cavell was shot by firing squad exactly one hundred years ago – and there’s a certain symmetry in the fact that Northern Union (which later became re-christened as Rugby League) split from Rugby Union in 1895 … and that Rugby Union went professional exactly one hundred years later.

Attitudes towards each other are entrenched. Those who follow Rugby League have a chip on their shoulder when considering Rugby Union – simultaneously they regard the athletic quality of their players, their skill-sets and their sport generally to be superior and harbour huge jealousy (to the point of grudge, almost) against Union because of its generally higher profile and global commercial reach/success.  They also believe that, without due cause, Rugby Union has a snotty, condescending and haughty attitude towards Rugby League.

Partly, that is undoubtedly true. Rugby Union does tend to regard itself as the original and eternal ‘keeper of the rugby flame’ and – accordingly – tend to regard Rugby League as a contrived ‘pantomime entertainment’ version of the game which, in its northern British heartland, attracts a similar, working-class rooted, following to that of football.

Those who hold that the two sports might one day merge into one are kidding themselves. There’s too much history and attitude between them.

League adherents view Union’s scrums, rucks and mauls as unnecessarily complicated and boring – long ago League stripped these elements out in order to make their sport more crowd-friendly – but by the same token Union supporters laugh at League’s pathetic excuses for scrums (the players simply stand together without pushing, it’s simply a way of both re-starting the game and tying up forwards to give the backs more space in which to operate). The bottom line is – whilst I know several people who are fans of both rugby codes – the overwhelming bulk of fans of each version would rather go to the stake that contemplate ‘joining the other side’. To a large extent, your choice of rugby (League or Union) depends upon which one you were brought up with.

Be all that as it may, here’s a link to an excellent piece by Ian Herbert, its Chief Sports Writer, on the gulf between the two codes in – THE INDEPENDENT


FIFAAll of us who love and/or chip out a living writing about sport – never find those who are players or supporters – have watched fascinated at the way the crisis at football’s governing body FIFA has unfolded over the past fifteen years.

‘Slow motion car crash’ has a certain ring and aura of truth about it.

You know that an organisation is in serious need of a complete overhaul and revamp when, over time, the world’s reaction to each successive ever-more horrendous fact, revelation and/or whistle-blowing disclosure reduces exponentially in its degree of outrage and sense ‘something must be done’.

Or, to put it another way, when the cumulative effect is to render the organisation or sport concerned a laughing stock, ripe for caricature and ridicule even among mainstream comedians and those who generally hate and/or know nothing about it.

I therefore also commend to you the following perceptive and amusing ‘comment’ article by Marina Hyde on the latest developments at FIFA, which appears today on the website of – THE GUARDIAN


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About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts