What is it with the Welsh rugby team?

What is it with the Welsh rugby team?

The Rugby World Cup isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but what makes it fascinating is its demonstration of how the media takes such wildly extreme positions.

Dirty black or gleaming white, never shades of grey.

Take Wales. I challenge anyone to find a single article or column written in the last few weeks that is anything but laudatory – not just of the rugby team, but the morals of the players, the spirit with which they play the game and, by extension, Wales as a nation.

Now take England. Exactly the reverse is true.

Received wisdom is that Martin Johnson’s men have disgraced their country. They play a tedious brand of rugby, the players are arrogant, dishonest, lecherous drunks and the World Cup is better off for the fact that they lost early and went home. Good riddance.

Once the narrative is established, new information is merely interpreted accordingly. So when Wales’ head coach said that he had considered cheating during the semi-final defeat to France (by getting a player to feign injury) the media congratulated him for not giving into temptation.

Had Martin Johnson done the same, there would have been outraged calls for his immediate prosecution.

The media hero, of course, can happily ride this wave of adulation, as we will no doubt see when the vanquished Welsh team arrives back home this week, presumably to ticker-tape parades and civic receptions.

But how should the unhappy villain, in this case anyone involved in English rugby, respond?

First, recognise that although narratives are stubborn and nasty creatures they can be beaten – in time.

Secondly, resist the temptation to plead for more balanced reporting, as some of the players have done in the last few days. Such protestations will merely be dismissed as whingeing.

Thirdly, get your head down and say nothing to a journalist if you don’t have to. Do your job as well as you can.

Oh, and start winning again.

Article date

October 24th, 2011

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer

@RT_MediaTrainer

My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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