Because I've been away in Canada for quite a while, I was slightly confused by the term "Bloodgate" being bandied about in conversation. In fact, I was more than slightly confused – I had absolutely no idea what they were on about. As I'm male, I would never admit this in public. I immediately assumed that it was something to do with boxing. My best guess was that someone had bled over somebody else and that they'd caught something nasty. When I got home I Googled the term to find out what everyone was on about. I was in shock – it was not boxing – it was a case of unbelievably blatant cheating in a rugby union game.
How could this happen? Obviously football is full of terrible cheating, with hairdressers diving and rolling around while wondering what their awful tattoos are supposed to mean. But not rugby – this is a game for gentlemen – admittedly gentlemen who like to gouge each other's eyes out, stamp on opponents' heads and bite pieces of their ears off – but all in a gentlemanly manner. The actual offence was so obvious – a player biting on a blood capsule to fake a blood injury so that he could go off and get a kicker on in his place. Nobody really bleeds like that and I wondered where he got the capsule.
I suspected it might have been the Twenty-Four-Hour-Non-Stop-Party-Shop near me. Not only does this place have very tired staff but they also sell a full range of fake "joke" injuries. Their blood capsules are not very good as the liquid, as with the Harlequins player, is too thin and so pours out all over the place and doesn't coagulate like real blood. Whenever I'm cutting wood and want to scare my family into believing that I've had a terrible accident, I use ketchup – that works much better. Maybe the player (Tom Williams) should have gone for one of those fake arm stumps that make it look like you've lost your hand. That would have been great telly, with him running off the pitch clutching at the bloody stump while the physio picks his "lost" hand up off the pitch. If only he'd just Googled "fake injuries" he would have found a full range of alternative ideas – how about an eyeball popping out? Spray some fake vomit under the posts?
If you're going to cheat then you really need to be a bit more imaginative. Here is a list of some of my favourite cheats in sporting history.
The Spanish Paralympians
The intellectually disabled Spanish team won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The only problem was that it was soon revealed that 10 out of the 12 members of the team had no mental deficiency whatsoever (apart from thinking that they could get away with it). The athletes-with-a mental-deficiency category was subsequently scrapped as it was felt that determining an athlete's eligibility was too difficult.
Rosie Ruiz's sprint finish
This 23-year-old was the first woman to cross the finishing line at the Boston Marathon in 1980. She clocked the fastest time ever recorded for a female runner (2hr 31min 56sec). There was some suspicion when she was given the winner's medal as she was barely sweating. When further investigation was carried out it turned out that she hadn't passed any of the checkpoints. In fact, she had joined the race just half a mile from the finish and sprinted all the way. Her cheating credentials were even more impressive when it was discovered that she had qualified for the Boston Marathon by finishing another marathon within a certain time by taking the subway...
Boris was one of the Soviet Union's Modern Pentathlon team in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. It also appears that he was something of a Heath Robinson character. In épée fencing, a touch is registered on the scoring box when the tip of the weapon is depressed with a force eqivalent to the weight of 750 grams, completing a circuit formed by the weapon, body cord and box. It was found that Onishchenko's épée had been modified to include a switch that allowed him to close this circuit without actually depressing the tip of his weapon. He was henceforward known, rather brilliantly, as "Disonishchenko" and thrown out of the Olympics. The plus side to this was that the British team which reported him won the gold medal.
What's the moral of all this? I think it's probably that if you are going to cheat then don't get caught – you just look like an idiot.
Game for a laugh on the green grass of home?
My kids are insisting that I put up a badminton court on the lawn. Is this a proper game for a man to play? Discuss...