From this evening’s Standard, Wasps’ coach Shaun Edwards, on Stade Francais scrum-half Julien Dupuy, who has been cited for gouging the eyes of Ulster’s Stephen Ferris –
“He needs to get a serious ban for that. To do it against a fellow professional is out of order.”
Implying, presumably, that it would be perfectly in order to try to poke the eyes out of an amateur, or a spectator, or possibly the referee.
I think the last other occupational group to go in for this kind of thing (professional solidarity, not poking each others’ eyes out) were comedians. It used to be common to hear one comic (often one of the old school) say of another (usually what were then termed “alternative comedians”) –
“That’s one thing you just don’t do – slag off a fellow professional.”
All that’s gone by the board now, of course, but these antique decencies still persist among footballers and now, apparently, professional Rugby Union players.
If you tried talking about the amateur spirit, of course, you’d be sneered from here to Timbuctoo.