There's an FA proposal to launch a pilot scheme where only team captains are allowed to speak to the referee. Some clown rang Five Live tonight and said - and I quote - "that kind of thing's fine in rugby because they're all upper class but football's all about passion...."
I will not sleep until I have counted the ways in which this is bollocks.
1. There is clearly no point trying to persuade fools like these that rugby union is, and always has been, played by a wider range of people than they think. So I won't.
2. But I would like to be standing by when they told Gareth Thomas or Lewis Moody that they didn't understand passion.
3. While clearly the England team are exclusively effete public school nances, you wouldn't say the same about the Welsh, let alone the Fijians or the Tongans or the Romanians, all of whom play by the same rules and observe the same conventions.
4. Rugby players constantly try to influence the ref - people like George Gregan are chattering to him all the time - but they never try to intimidate him. Martin Johnson never confronted a ref like John Terry does nearly every game.
5. Rugby League players, who are as rough-hewn as you like and could have the entire Premiership for breakfast, earrings and all, never argue with the ref because they're not allowed to. The same applies in most sports.
6. Arguing with football referees is a high level form of cheating. It's not done in the hope of changing his mind. It's done in the hope of getting the next decision.
7. It's orchestrated and sanctioned by managers and coaches at the very top of the game. If they want to stamp it out they just have to get half a dozen blokes in a room.
8. If you've ever watched a game of schoolboy football and seen how small children, with the active encouragement of their parents, copy this behaviour, you'll recognise that the day is not far off when the only people who will volunteer to referee football at any level will be those with the kind of personality disorders which ought to disqualify them.