Trinity won, Royal lost nothing, Rugby lost
The Bradby Shield is an rugby annual encounter between two schools. Post game reports usually talk of the game. In the case of the First Leg of the Bradby, however, the efforts and slip-ups of the players were overshadowed by unnecessary off-field matters that amounted to a shameful blot on the game and the great tradition of sportsmanship built by the two schools over the years.
Trinity won the game. They outplayed Royal; great game of rugby in that sense, especially since Royal was supposed to be the better team. It’s the job of the boys to do their best on the field, regardless of the cheers and jeers. It’s part of their job to steel themselves against off-field distractions. Trinity were unfazed, Royal rattled; the scoreboard, 34-11 tells that story.
Two issues remain. First, the unruly behavior on the part of a section of the crowd, notably and unfortunately Old Trinitians and worse, those tasked to guide Trinity rugby, the so-called ‘Trinity Scrummage’! Invading the field, interrupting play, abusing and manhandling the Senior Games Master and the Rugby Master-in-Charge of Royal are unprecedented and unacceptable and absolutely un-Trinity-like. Add to this the Trinity Principal opting to get into the thick of things, thereby tarnishing his office, and the Trinity coach violating relevant rules to chit-chat with the referee and what you have is a monumental ‘Out of Order!’
The issue was alleged lapses on the part of the referee.
Now there are good referees and bad referees. There are good referees who have bad days at the office. There are also referees who make it seem that 15 players are playing against 16. This is common to all sports at all levels, rugby included and Bradby Shield matches included. Regardless of all that, interruptions wreck the moment, disrupt the run of play and rob one part of momentum.
A more serious fact and one highlighted in various comments in the media by Old Trinitians and some sports journalists is that the President of the Rugby Referees’ Association happens to be the father of the Royal skipper. This naturally adds spice to allegations that the referee was ‘blowing for Royal’. It doesn’t necessarily follow of course, but if one were to go by the dictum ‘justice must not only be done but seen to be done,’ then this is a clear case of conflict of interest. If not for this, then it would be ‘bad refereeing’ and not ‘referee blowing for Royal’.
Now, one can’t blame Royal for the referee’s inadequacies, especially since Trinity did not offer objection when the referees were named (a few days before the match). Designating referees is a matter for that Association. This however does not absolve the President of the Association from being negligent in disclosing the fact that he has a personal interest and therefore declining the position. That’s the gentleman thing to do. It was not done.
If there are heads that need to be hung in shame, then one has to count the President of the Referees’ Association and all those Trinitians who acted like hooligans that evening.