Rugby not a violent sport, says Dylan Harley

Stop casting aspersions. That’s the message of kiwi hard-man and reigning England captain, Dylan Hartley, as he prepares to lead out his troops against the worst Australia side in living memory.

Hartley, who is known for his no-nonsense approach to hurting other people and laissez-faire attitude towards the so-called “rulebook”, recently attended a mini-rugby tournament in Beaconsfield as part of England Rugby’s half-arsed youth programme. And he had reassuring words for concerned parents.

“Rugby is not a violent sport. Certainly no more violent than tennis, or golf. Ultimately you’re playing for the badge and that means putting a marker down and winning the collisions. We don’t go backwards. We go forwards. We smash them, before they smash us. We show no mercy.”

Safety campaigners are up in arms about Hartley’s comments, which they have twisted into a flimsy admission that rugby is ridiculously dangerous and should be banned. Colin Smog, spokesperson for the campaign group Say No To Rugby, issued a strongly worded statement.

“I’ve never liked rugby, probably because I was bit of a wimp a school and the other boys always picked me last. So now I’m getting my own back by trying to get it banned.”

Smog acknowledges that Rome wasn’t built in a day, or even a week. In an effort to initiate dialogue he is launching a campaign to ban tackling in rugby, a move that he argues would reduce injuries and actually speed up play.

But leading voices in rugby, including clinically depressed loudmouth Brian Moore and smooth-talking dreamboat Jerry Guscott, have hit back, pointing out that tackling is quite an important element of the game. Moore seethed:

“Frankly all this whining about tackling is a red herring and blinds people to the real issues. We should be talking about scrummaging and the farcical interventions of the IRB.”

Guscott, who has not aged in 20 years, added, “Can I go now?”

Paraplegic former rugby player Derek Pringle weighed into the debate in a comment posted on England Rugby’s confusing website.

“Derek is unable to write but has intimated that he supports Dylan Hartley’s comments. As his full-time carer, I feel a responsibility to speak out on his behalf.”

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