Saturday, June 5 2004. Essendon versus Hawthorn in the Australian Football League.

The cowardly acts perpetrated in the above-mentioned AFL match last week began a feeding frenzy by scribes from both sides of the fence during the week. But no article in any newspaper was as grotesquely hypocritical and nonsensical as Jeff Wells? article in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, June 12.

AFL sympathetic ink-slinger Jeff Wells? plaintive bleating in that article was nothing more than a very poor attempt at changing the focus of the debate over on-field violence. Rugby League has long since cleaned up its act in regard to on-field violence and although not perfect, the NRL is eons ahead of the AFL. The truth is that AFL has dropped the ball in regard to on-field violence and should use the NRL as its template for bringing to justice players who commit acts of foul play on the field. Mr. Wells seems to be having trouble accepting this fact.

The AFL tribunal handed out suspensions totalling 16 weeks to the antagonists in the Hawthorn versus Essendon melee. The worst offender, a young man named Vandenberg, was suspended for 6 weeks, consisting of 3 weeks for kneeing and three weeks for striking. Greg Bird from the Cronulla side in the NRL was suspended for 10 weeks for kneeing by the NRL Judiciary earlier this season. The same act for which Vandenberg received 3 weeks from the AFL tribunal. Other players received suspensions of no more than four weeks. The TV footage of the incidents showed them to be vicious and in some cases unprovoked. If the Rugby League judiciary had handled this case, more than one player would be looking at season 2005 for his next game.

For years tepid AFL Journalist Wells has driven his size 5 Dunlop Volleys into League at every opportunity with regard to on-field violence. Yet in this, AFL?s direst hour in regard to on-field violence, this same Journalist is conveniently ignoring the ineptitude of the AFL Tribunal by giving examples of what has happened in Rugby League. Instead of taking the AFL tribunal to task for weak, languid decisions regarding the suspensions handed out to the AFL players involved in last week?s melee, he gives Rugby League a piece of his mind once again. A piece he can ill afford in my opinion.

At the precise moment that Jeff Wells could have proven that his righteous indignation over the years at violence in Rugby League wasn?t just opportunistic bluster and sycophantic gibberish, he proved that it was all that and more. His shrieking is nothing more than the hypocritical ranting of a parasitic lickspittle. He has attached himself to the game of Rugby League to feather his own nest and he won?t let go until everyone in Sydney agrees with him. His goal in essence is to put himself out of a job because if everyone in Sydney becomes an AFL supporter, Jeff Wells would have nothing to write about and most certainly nothing interesting to write about.

Rugby League is a gladiatorial contest. It is the ultimate physical team sport on the face of the planet because the combatants aren?t covered in protective clothing, they aren?t able to hide on an oval 180 metres long and 150 metres wide and they face their antagonist. Rugby League players have their foe standing in front of them, looking directly at them, searching for the weakness that will give them the leverage required to win the contest. If you?re weak or unprepared you will be found out quickly and pushed aside as a Lion pushes aside a Jackal at a fresh kill.

It surprises and amazes me that any legitimate newspaper considers Jeff Wells a talented scribe worthy of dissemination. He seems to denigrate Rugby League with every article, to besmirch the greatest game of all at every opportunity in an attempt to convince us to stop us watching Rugby League, rather than convincing us that Australian Rules is what we should be watching. Yet Mr. Wells understands League the way most of us understand the theory of relativity and he validates that opinion regularly.

Rugby League is our game Mr. Wells and if it isn?t yours, we can live with that. It would be nice if you could live with it too.

I am unfortunately unable to post links to the articles involved because the Telegraph have seen fit not to include them in their on-line edition or they have been deleted.

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