Jim Lyon - Respect is not a campaign, it is a matter of discipline

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

If one of your players makes a gesture to mock an official, what do you do?

You could:

A) Drop him from the next international match and make a public statement describing his actions as having “no place whatsoever in our sport”?

B) Fine him a percentage of his wages/match fee and perhaps ban him for a while?

C) Put him on £250k a week and make him captain?

The first two have happened in rugby and cricket, the third in....well, you know the rest.

This is not meant to be another football bashing piece – but it has hard not to.

France’s move this week to leave No.8 Louis Picamoles out of their Six Nations clash with Scotland because of the way he sarcastically clapped a decision by referee Alain Rolland is impressive.

It sends out a message.

“Respect is the foundation of our values. It is important to send a signal to all players who have the privilege of wearing the jersey and remind them it imposes duties and obligations,” said France coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

But then rugby has always been respected for its passion to keep clean of such disrespect.

Dylan Hartley knows more than anyone else how much an ill-advised remark can cost.

In his case a red card in a major final, an 11-week ban and, as a result, missing out on the first winning British & Irish Lions tour for 16 years.

I would suggest that if similar retribution for calling an official a ‘******* cheat’ were dished out in football, there would be few players available for selection before too long.

It is too easy – and plain wrong - to highlight football’s ills and hold rugby up as a paragon of virtue. And let us face it, cricket is hardly without its morons.

The odd-shaped ball game obviously has serious issues of its own – some it is still wrangling with after decades of discussion.

But when it comes to on- and off-field behaviour there is a level for players and staff that must be maintained.

Unlike in the Association game, where referees seem to spend most of their time surrounded by demons spitting fury, if you are part of the Union mere sarcasm can get you kicked out.

It does not take a campaign to bring respect to a game, it needs discipline.

It is a case of having the nerve to enforce it.

If football wanted to, it could.