Gavin Henson has RUINED the lives of thousands of Welsh people forever. Or something like that.
According to the Daily Mail (UK newspaper/rag/Nazi recruiting pamphlet) the Ospreys player “petulantly refused to join his teammates’ salute to the thousands of Wales supporters” after the narrow Welsh win against Italy at the weekend.
The headline for their match report was the incredible “Henson ruins the day by snubbing his own fans in Rome”.
Making fun of the Daily Mail for writing awful rugby reports is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. And when we say shooting fish in a barrel we mean a large barrel. With no water in it. And only dead fish, not living ones. Dozens of them. And in shooting this barrel you are using a rocket launcher from about one foot away. Let’s just say it’s not exactly a paper with much of a rugby reputation.
The East Terrace feels contaminated by even picking up such a right-wing fascist rag as the Daily Mail, but in the interest of rugby journalism we felt we should address the latest bit of Henson Hysteria from the Mail’s Michael Folley.
Firstly, if anything ruined the day for the travelling Welsh fans it was the match itself. The encounter was truly atrocious. The reasons for this were many and varied but included: Warren Gatland selecting a second string XV (devaluing the Six Nations and damaging Wales’ chances of making up the points difference deficit on Ireland); the ping pong kicking tactics of both teams; Italy being a limited rugby team and poor individual performances from an array of usually talented players on both sides.
For an indication of how poor this match was take a look at the possession kicked statistics. There were 96 kicks in the game and of these only seven were kicked off the park. That means there were 89 kicks up and down the pitch during play. If anything ruined a fan’s day it was that.
However, rugby genius Michael Folley apparently disagrees. It was not the poor quality of rugby on display or the negative kicking tactics employed by both sides that spoilt the occasion, but rather one man’s decision to not remain on the field afterwards to wave at his team’s supporters.
When exactly did it become compulsory for away teams to acknowledge travelling fans? It is on the whole a modern phenomena. It’s also a contentious issue. Some fans, especially knowledgeable ones, are not too keen on the practice. It’s one thing coming back out on the field after a famous victory, or even after an heroic defeat at the end of a tough but glorious campaign, but to do so for every single match? If anything the practice is wearing a bit thin.
Some fans will even argue that after such a dreadful performance Wales should have run back into the dressing room as soon as possible. Welsh legend Scott Gibbs was known for his dislike of such empty gestures and he was never vilified for heading straight to the showers.
Furthermore, if Welsh prop John Yapp had not stayed on the pitch at the end of the match to acknowledge Welsh fans could you imagine the headline “John Yapp ruins the day by snubbing his own fans in Rome”. No? We couldn’t either.
However, Michael Folley is not finished there. After using various adjectives to dismiss and belittle Henson, he then decides to, well, twist the facts.
Firstly, he states Henson’s “first game in a Welsh shirt for almost a year had passed without great intervention on his part as an attacking force”.
To be fair to Henson, it is worth pointing out he was given only three passes all day. Even the greatest players of all time could do little with that much ball. On one of these possessions Henson (who had worked himself into space) made a try scoring pass to Shane Williams. The try was converted. So you could say Wales averaged 2.3 points each time Henson had the ball. But good old Michael Folley utterly ignores this detail, choosing instead to write: “Shane Williams’ 46th try in a Welsh jersey…was poached with typical aplomb in the 27th minute”.
That’s some shocking reporting there. You could almost accuse Folley of having some kind of personal vendetta. Or, perhaps, just cowering to his editor who had decided to focus the article on Gavin Henson as the Daily Fascist readers like to get angry about something and, as a partner of a well known celebrity, Henson is the ideal candidate.
Before we get loads of emails and comments sent into The East Terrace about Henson’s abilities (or lack of) as a rugby player, bear in mind this article isn’t about Henson directly. It’s about the utter drivel that is allowed to pass for rugby writing in major publications such as the Daily Mail.
People like Michael Folley shouldn’t be allowed within fifty miles of a Six Nations match. It’s depressing to see such a great sporting tournament with such a rich heritage commented on in such a childish way.
Besides, any Welsh fan who spent the weekend in the Eternal City and had their day RUINED by one player leaving the pitch two minutes earlier than anyone else really needs to stop going on rugby weekends. They would, like Michael Folley, be utterly missing the point.