On BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday, there was a brief piece about Rugby League which is definitely a rarity. Of course, it didn’t exactly portray the game in a positive light as it was a piece about the ‘booze epidemic’ currently taking over the NRL. It seemed a little scare-mongering to me, and excessively critical. Considering how the NRL doesn’t really register on the radar of most British sports fans, it seemed like a piece going out of its way to portray the game in a negative light.
Then this morning I happened to read this (emphasis mine):
CRONULLA have stood down halfback Brett Seymour from all commitments with the NRL club pending further investigation into an alleged alcohol bender on Sunday evening.
Seymour ended a 10-hour bender in a garden bed in Cronulla Mall after being ejected from popular nightspot 2230 Lounge Bar & Restaurant about 1am Monday morning.
Seymour has since been cleared of falling into the garden bed, and is no longer stood down. Quite frankly, to let him off because of that is to miss the point, namely that he was drunk enough to be ejected from a nightclub. You would think that in an environment where there has been a rash of incidents involving players and excessive amounts of alcohol that they might just turn it down a notch. Evidently not. Considering that Seymour has previous experience when it comes to drink-related misconduct that he would be especially wary about getting embroiled in a saga like this. Again, evidently not.
All this talk of the NRL instigating a drinking ban seems overly draconian, and I doubt it would change much (ask 1930s America how banning alcohol worked there). If players want to drink,they will drink. It seems more like a cultural problem that needs to be corrected. It was noticable in the article that the Cronulla players were joining their coach Ricky Stuart for a casual drink. I know from personal experience that it doesn’t take too much for a casual drink to end up getting a little more hardcore. I can understand Stuart doing this for the purposes of team spirit, and it’s worth pointing out that no other player at this get-together made a fool of themselves, but I think there’s probably a drinking culture that starts at the clubs and needs to be reconsidered at the minute whether any celebratory drinks, no matter how casual, are a good idea.
Basically, there’s only one time I consider players making drunken fools of themselves to be appropriate: after winning a Final. Apart from that, they really should cut down on the drinking, especially in an environment when they are going to be hung out to dry for the slightest indiscretion (not that most of the incidents that have been documented this season could be described as ‘slight’). It’s a sad state of affairs where the governing body might have to step in to instigate some common sense in the players.