Been a while, hey.
I spent 6 hours the other day writing my usual end of season grading blog, with each side being given a micro-review, a team of the season and an end of season awards list, when unfortunately, my computer had a meltdown and I lost the lot. I was angry and frustrated at that one like you wouldn't believe. I DM'd Trevor and was steadfast in the fact that I'd simply re-write the whole thing the following day in a shorter format, however, I made the mistake of logging into Twitter the week before two major finals and a minor international and I figured what's the point?
Why spend that sort of time trying to write a blog to show people my opinion and try to spark a debate, when in fact, it seems nobody wants to hear (or read) anything other than their own opinion, so a debate becomes abuse, arguing and ill feeling. I came to the conclusion that for the first time since I started blogging, that I don't want to put my opinion out there, and for the first time in #rugbyunited history, there will be no end of season roundup blog. Also note that this season, I started a weekly Premiership roundup blog, and stopped that as I was given grief for concentrating on the Premiership, I changed it to more of a news/roundup blog, and was given grief for writing about teams, players and leagues I know little about (mainly by the same people moaning I was too Premiership-centric)
Then the 6 Nations happened and ..... well the blogs are on here, I grew to hate a large portion of rugby fans. Vitriolic, one eyed idiots who's rather gloat at another sides loss than cheer their own victory. I wrote this off as the usual 'international only' rugby fans, but now, I'm not so sure. (a point shared by Will Carling who, as I'm writing this, has tweeted
Yet again just stunned at the joy and glee in the media regarding England's defeat to the Baabaas. No recognition of the fact that England were a largely new outfit, so many youngsters - many of whom showed some great promise.
Also take into account the flak my fellow #Rugbyunited blogger, Andrew received for suggesting that it would be beneficial in the long term for Ulster to not make the Champions Cup........
A wider argument is that this is the way of the world now. Everyone is offended by something, every topic of debate can be 'proven' and backed up by online articles, which carry no weight or authority in the grander scheme of things, social media has now become a haven for the keyboard warrior. Not even nameless, faceless, Joe Bloggs laymen and women, but you have the likes of Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins and in the rugby circles, Austin Healey, who go out of their way to have the 'different' opinion, to stir the pot, to troll. And people lap up the content by these misery peddlers who will simply block you if you prove them wrong.
Banter has now turned into abuse,opinions have turned into battles and social media has turned into a cesspit.
Those who follow me may know that I stood up for Sonja McLaughlin when someone tweeted some ridiculous sexist comment, well that user made some pretty specific comments about what he'd do to my wife that I'm pretty certain that he wouldn't dare say to my face. Or my wife's for that matter. This wasn't some young idiot, this was a guy in his 50's that was a former head teacher. Twitter then took literally almost 3 months to block him, despite his timeline being full of racist, sexist and homophobic tweets to go alongside his threats of rape and violence towards women. On the night I had my run in with him, I know of at least half a dozen people that reported multiple posts by him, yet he was allowed to continue on Twitter for 3 months...... as I say, cesspit.
I know that not everyone on social media is like this, the same way I know there are still plenty of rugby fans that can engage in a good natured debate, and embrace other opinions, but when the minority are so vocal, it's hard to hear the majority at times. And I hate it.
One of the most repeated rugby mantra's is that rugby fans are better than football fans. I call bullshit. When Lorus Karius made some dreadful errors in the champions league final, apart from a few idiots, there has been a groundswell of support for him, including a particularly good tweet about the recent cases of suicide from German goalkeepers due in no small part to the abuse they get following a mistake. Meanwhile, over in rugby, Saracens and Leinster won their respective playoff finals, both games, according to social media, were decided by blatantly biased referees, cheating and unpunished violence. Eddie Jones has been abused by pretty much everyone for his selection and subsequent defeat in an uncapped exhibition match against the Barbarians, in some cases, you were watching fourth or fifth choice players for England, and they played their part in a cracking match against a BaaBaas side that was arguably one of the finest in recent memory.
One of my 'favourite' social media rugby pages spent the day before the match throwing barbs at Chris Ashton being the BaaBaas weak link and how he was an England reject and wasn't a full back, etc etc, since the match, they have been throwing jabs at Eddie Jones for not picking Ashton for England prior to his his move to France, which then spawned the 'Ashton refused to play for the Saxons' nonsense. Ashton was picked for a full tour and a Saxons tour, he was banned for the senior tour and opted out of the Saxons tour to attend the birth of his child....but yeah, he refused to play for England under Eddie...... somehow.
I could go through Eddie's selections and pretty much find someone insulting Jones for every decision, for example.... Ford at fly half is an awful choice (forgetting he was man of the series for many on last years Argentina tour) being one of my favourites.
And post game.....
According to social media, England may as well not tour this summer as we clearly don't stand a chance against the Boks. (In fact the only people who seemingly think England will win in SA are the Boks fans, where of course, some of them are prone to abusing their own teams and coaches) There was even a few tweets about it being 'embarrassing' for an international team to lose to the BaaBaas....http://www.barbarianfc.co.uk/results-fixtures/2014-2015/ there's a link to the Barbarians results. Their win loss record is actually pretty good, in fact the last of the home nations to play the BaaBaas other than England was Ireland.....who lost. Or maybe England should adopt the Aussie and Kiwi way and if it's uncapped just say its an England XV rather than the full side, then people wouldn't count it, right?
As I took a break from this blog, I flick on to Twitter, and I see this quoted tweet from our friends @ThLooseH (The Loose Head)
Granted, not the most harshly worded response, but what was the criminal tweet that elicited the response? Was it bringing back the death penalty? Getting rid of the minimum wage?
Nope, it was a hypothetical musing about how great it would be if the Barbarians could enter the world cup with unselected players from the other nations.....
Just goes to show, you simply CAN'T have an opinion without someone chiming in.
Alternatively, I had a bit of banter with a friend of mine, which I think was initially seen as a bit out of order, luckily, those with more than half a brain cell can very easily tell the difference and I ended up having a lovely conversation about squad depths, the playoffs, international breaks and salary caps. And that is one of the reasons I can't just log off of Social Media. For every idiot, there are 10 people that want to talk rugby, whom in turn, I want to converse with.
Besides anything, after a rough couple of months with my personal life, I've learned that there are more important things than rugby. So if I'm quieter than usual either on Twitter or the blog, just take it I'm having a time out!
Ok, signing off now, there are still tickets remaining for the #rugbyunited/Aitch and Aitch Bee end of season Dinner with special guest Neil Back. Go to AitchandAitchBee.buzz to buy them.....
catch you soon