If a Rugby Union web site offered me three times as much money to write about Rugby Union, I’d ditch you lot faster than Sam Burgess decided to ditch the South Sydney Rabbitohs!
Sure I’d probably develop narcolepsy, I’d have to come up with some stupid back story about a fancy school I didn’t actually attend, and I’d have to try and pretend that the complete and utter garbage I was forced to watch week after week was awesome because people in three more countries than Rugby League is played in were also rolling around in the mud in between kicking the ball over the sideline….but hey, I reckon I’d cope!
Sam Burgess has made a similar decision. You can talk about if it is right or wrong for him to leave the Rabbitohs until you go blue in the face, the fact is the decision has been made. He will be playing Rugby Union for three years starting in 2015.
Will he be a success? Of course he will! This is an English Rugby Union side that Andrew Farrell walked into as a completely finished Rugby League front rower, and who played in the centers at test level for them! All of the players that switch from Rugby League to Rugby Union are successfull. Even when Rugby Union types try to re-write history and how coverts have played, their records speak for themselves.
A players record is important because for the most part, that is how people remember them. That is what concerns me about Sam Burgess. You see, unlike most players that leave Rugby League to go and play Rugby Union, Sam Burgess hasn’t really won anything.
Playing for the Bradford Bulls, Sam Burgess never won a Super League title. Going into his 4th and final year with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, he is yet to win an NRL Grand Final.
At international level Burgess’ only success was back in 2007 when the Great Britain Rugby League team beat the New Zealand team in England. Even in his lone apearence at the NRL All Star Game Burgess was on the losing team.
None of this matters to Sam Burgess’ bank account. It does make you wonder about his career path though and what direction his sporting legacy is heading.
Sonny Bill Williams left for Rugby Union in 2008 with an NRL Grand Final winners ring on his hand. He went to Rugby Union and was an oustanding success, winning “Super Rugby” titles and eventutally winning a Rugby Union World Cup. On his return from Rugby Union, Williams won another NRL title.
There are a lot of people that have no time for Sonny Bill Williams. They don’t like him one bit. You can’t deny a winner though.
When people rate a players overall career they look for bullet points. They look at their achievements. The line between good player and a great player grows bigger every year for a retired player if they don’t have silverware to point to.
For example, former English Rugby League player Shaun Edwards was far from the best player of his generation. At his best you wouldn’t have mentioned his name in a discussion of the best halves in the game. However, Shaun Edwards won 32 winners medals at club level over the course of his career. 32! You can not deny that level of success!
Right now, at the age of 25, Sam Burgess has 1 winners medal from a series against a New Zealand team that was dead on arrival in England.
If Sam Burgess wants to return to Rugby League after his stint in Rugby Union he will be welcomed with open arms. The red carpet will be rolled out, he will be paid a lot of money, he will form a major part of new his clubs marketing campaign for that season, and supporters of that club will embrace him as one of their own.
Talk that he should be banned from playing the game ever again is completely ridiculous. Rugby League supporters have short memories and anything they remember that they are not comfortable with, they conveniently forget.
It will be interesting to see what happens if Sam Burgess goes through his three year Rugby Union stint without winning anything. Would his next career move be all about money, or would he look to move somewhere that would finally see him win some silverware.
I tend to think he would be looking to move to a club with a good shot at winning a title. A team that is on the rise, that has some stars mixed in with good up and coming players. One that has a great coach and an ownership group looking to win.
Sounds kinda like South Sydney in 2014 if you ask me….
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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