Friday, November 06, 2015

Sam Burgess & the blame game

by Kristian Ross

Flash back to a year ago and Sam Burgess was on the top of the world. He had massively contributed to South Sydney Rabbitohs first NRL win in forty-three years. Breaking his cheekbone in the process, Burgess went on to win the Clive Churchill Medal award for his man of the match performance in a Grand Final and in doing so became the first non Australian to achieve the feat.

A year and a half on and it’s a very different landscape for the Dewsbury man. It was announced earlier today that Burgess had been released from his contract at Bath Rugby and was set for a return back to his former rugby league club after a torrid time in union. There are many questions to be asked and no doubt the post mortem has started, but what you really must ask is this: Did Burgess simply not live up to the hype?

The truth is, a year is a very short space of time for any player to adapt to a different code, but the bluntness of the situation is that Sam Burgess had an average season in the Aviva Premiership. Albeit despite flashes of brilliance, the Yorkshireman simply didn’t light up the league like many expected and when Stuart Lancaster came calling before the start of the Rugby World Cup with a chance of a call up, it spelt only one word: trouble. 

Better players were overlooked by Lancaster and his coaching team and no doubt as people ponder that Burgess’s end to his union career is sad, you must spare a thought for players such as Luther Burrell who would have felt simply cheated out of a spot after all his hard work in the last few years. Needless to say that Burgess has became the inevitable scapegoat of England’s failings at RWC2015, which is not only wrong, but also set the tone for his exit from the game. But did Burgess have to go? Could he have proved his critics wrong and saw out his contract in the south west? The phrase “running away with his tail between his legs” has been thrown around a fair bit on social media. But sympathy has been rife too and we now must ask ourselves, did rugby union fail Sam Burgess? Or did Sam Burgess fail at rugby union?

@Kristian7Ross - 21, Geordie, part time journalist and Irish Rugby fan.


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Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019