Daniel Gregory’s Weekly Column: Reaction to WC exit is over the top

England's Jonny Wilkinson appears dejected at the end of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match at Eden Park, Auckland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 8, 2011. See PA Story: WORLDCUP England. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Use subject to restrictions. Editorial reporting purposes only; no images to be used to simulate a moving image. Commercial including Book use only with prior written approval. Call +44 (0) 1158 447447 or see www.pressassociation.com/images/restrictions.
England's Jonny Wilkinson appears dejected at the end of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match at Eden Park, Auckland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 8, 2011. See PA Story: WORLDCUP England. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Use subject to restrictions. Editorial reporting purposes only; no images to be used to simulate a moving image. Commercial including Book use only with prior written approval. Call +44 (0) 1158 447447 or see www.pressassociation.com/images/restrictions.

WE were all disappointed to see a lacklustre England side dumped out of the Rugby World Cup in the early hours of Saturday morning, but the media’s reaction to Martin Johnson’s squad from start to finish in New Zealand has been ridiculous.

I was particularly surprised by a piece written by Daily Mirror columnist Oliver Holt.

Holt’s column touched on the behaviour of the England rugby union side off the pitch while in New Zealand before their defeat to the French.

The article states: “England’s stars have behaved like an ignorant, ill-disciplined, overindulged, self-important, spoilt, feral, deluded bunch of bullying mediocrities.”

“Come back, the England football team. All is forgiven.”

Holt’s article is, in my opinion, a very short-sighted view that just adds to a huge over-reaction to events taking place in the England camp.

It was slightly unfortunate timing for Holt to write that article just a few days before Wayne Rooney’s petulant and ill-timed sending off in Montenegro on Friday evening.

A general lack of respect emanates from the modern footballer that we are yet to witness on the same scale in professional rugby.

The main difference in attitude that springs to mind is the respective players’ respect for match officials.

Would you ever see the likes of Ashley Cole or Andy Carroll call a referee sir? Rugby players show respect for match officials at all times on the field of play.

Yes, the sport has had its incidents off the pitch, but even on a local level, a rugby union official will be offered far more respect than a football referee will.

England’s top sporting stars – in particular our football, rugby union and cricket players – are under heightened scrutiny with all the media coverage available to the public these days.

There is bound to be the odd scandal here or there. Rugby hasn’t been short on scandal by any stretch of the imagination, but to compare the behaviour of rugby stars to that of the modern football star is like comparing Johnny Rotten with Cliff Richard.