Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What would old Mr Brennan say?

Trevor Brennan has been banned for life from playing rugby after being found guilty of assaulting an Ulster supporter at a Heineken Cup game last January.
Brennan was also been fined €25,000 by the European Rugby Cup (ERC), ordered to pay €5,000 compensation to the fan and to pay the costs of convening the hearing. Brennan also received lifetime ban on participation in any capacity in tournaments organised by ERC.

Western society has systematically demonised physical violence of any sort while, at the same time, invoking the right to free speech to permit verbal abuse of an increasingly offensive nature, confined only by certain racist or sexist limitations. What's deemed mere "Vulgar Abuse" is not amenable to any remedy through law of slander.

Trevor Brennan has received a very heavy penalty for assaulting an Ulster fan, Patrick Bamford, at a rugby match last January. Brennan claims that the fan insulted his mother, Bamford claims that he only insulted Brennan’s pub. What’s interesting is that Bamford regards this as completely normal and acceptable within the confines of a sports ground, but wouldn’t dare offer the same abuse to Brennan face-to-face in the street or in a bar. He would fear the consequences that his actions were clearly inviting.

Where is the natural justice in a situation where someone with a quick mouth can verbally assault another person without fear of retribution? Nature has it’s own way of balancing talents and allowance should be made for the circumstances in each individual case. I’ve no doubt that Brennan did hear his mother being called a whore, but perhaps he ended up hitting the wrong Ulster supporter.

Trevor Brennan should have exercised more restraint in the situation, but he can also claim, in mitigation, that he was provoked. His punishment, including a lifetime ban from involvement in any capacity in ERC competitions, seems excessive.

Mr Bamford will probably be a bit more circumspect in offering his opinions at future matches. It may be no harm if he, and the myriad other fans of all sports who feel free to hurl abuse at players and rival fans, remembers the old Irish adage: “Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón”. (a man's mouth often broke his nose)

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