EDITORIAL: Football can learn from rugby victors

The positive coverage afforded to the victorious England rugby team is mostly due to the fact that it won the World Cup in the last minute of extra time in front of a record 15m TV viewers.

Mostly, but not entirely, because those who play and run rugby - in contrast to those involved in football - also display a canny sense of the right way to behave that endears them to even the most hardened cynics in tabloid newsrooms.

For the people who run football, the sort of adjectives routinely applied to their players - greedy, stupid, arrogant, violent - are a painful counterpoint to those now lavished upon their rugby equivalents: dedicated, civilised, dignified and, above all, humble.

One can imagine the scenes if England's football team won their World Cup - although, remembering the 'dentist's chair' of 1996, the recent rape allegations and the menacing rowdiness of players and supporters alike, one might prefer not to. In contrast, Clive Woodward's men behaved impeccably amid the massed ranks of the global media.

If rugby is to benefit from this goodwill in the long term, PR has a crucial role to play in promoting the virtuous circle of success that has the potential to result in yet more World Cups and Six Nations trophies.

Encouraging more people to play means keeping up the campaign that portrays rugby as the sport of the hard-working and well-behaved. If that is done, the status of the game will rise, more children will want to play, gate receipts will soar, investment in grassroots rugby will flourish and we can produce yet more Jonny Wilkinsons to stuff the Aussies in years to come.

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