Gatland must learn there is no honour in admitting he came close to cheating
In his own head, Warren Gatland got a standing ovation for telling the media that he came close to cheating against France but didn’t. Back slaps, high fives, dubbed the Mother Teresa of rugby, even granted a knighthood from the southern-hemisphere bound Queenie, Gatland must have expected it all as the Wales head coach smugly announced during the week that he was on the verge of ordering a prop to fake an injury, thus creating uncontested scrums, until he, in his own words, “made the decision that it was not the right thing to do morally”. In his version of events, he had stared into the eyes of cheating and not blinked. A truly great great man, the former Wasps coach would have you believe.
But actually, if you think about it, there is absolutely no honour in telling people you came close to cheating. I’d say 90% of what makes cheating intolerable to normal folk is that those ideas came into an athlete’s head at all, that they were part of some kind of forethought, the deliberation with oneself about the merits of unfairness.
You see, a fair slab of sportsmen and women are inclined, now and again, to diverge from the path of good conduct, usually as a result of an over-zealous will to win. But few, thankfully, don’t have it in them to pre-construct an alternative reality where they are entitled to turn rules and regulations upside down to suit them, to assume the advantage so blatantly.
But that’s not to say those people don’t exist. And, in my eyes, there’s not much between the likes of Ben Johnson, a sporting pariah for having such fiendish foresight, or the three Pakistan cricketers currently in the docks for accepting renumeration for their pre-planning, and Gatland. Even though the Wales coach didn’t go through with his wicked plans (as he’ll happily tell you), having such dirty thoughts is enough.
If Gatland has any chance of being beatified in the game, he’ll have to do a lot more than admit he came close to cheating. He’ll have from it abstain completely.