SPORT TALK: Rugby halo is slipping after player antics

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ENGLAND’S rugby players booze, behave inappropriately towards women and generally misbehave. Whatever revelation next, night following day?

If the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand is remembered for anything other than boring the pants off the sporting world, perhaps it will finally dispel the holier-than-thou attitude rugby seems to have.

Other sports are always told how they can learn from rugby.

And on some counts that is spot on. You can’t but admire the spirit and camaraderie that is generated by teams up and down the country. The officials also command a great deal of respect too, while the use of video technology in the game has worked superbly.

But, while footballers are vilified for diving or pushing an opponent, punching and eye gouging (among other things) are just considered commonplace on the rugby field.

I’m sure we’ll let Mike Tindall and Co off their misdemeanours if they go on to win the tournament, though.

I MUST admit that I enjoyed seeing Frank Lampard silence his critics at the weekend.

The Chelsea midfielder’s hat-trick at Bolton was a timely reminder to his many doubters that he’s still a class act.

It’s baffling to me that he’s not considered a true great (well, almost as baffling as the notion that he’s fat).

Having scored ten Premier League goals or more in every single season since 2003/04 (with numerous medals to go with it), his record stacks up favourably against the much-lauded Paul Scholes and injury-prone Steven Gerrard.

I’d expect Lampard to call time on his England career after Euro 2012 (providing Montenegro don’t cause a massive upset on Friday).

But for now at least, I can’t imagine why anybody would say he’s finished at the top level. Would anybody seriously consider Gareth Barry or James Milner a better option?

I didn’t think so.

SO another high-profile Premier League game was ruined by the referee on Saturday.

Jack Rodwell’s red card in the Merseyside derby was laughable. As an Everton fan I’ll leave it there, but I’ve lost count of the amount of basic errors being made by the officials in our country.

The only surprise for me was that hapless Howard Webb wasn’t at the centre of the controversy. The sooner they are given help by technology, the better.