Rugby's gentlemanly nature can't be used as stick to beat Cristiano Ronaldo with after referee spat

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As the clock ticked into injury time on Saturday night and it became abundantly clear his World Cup dream was over, Cristiano Ronaldo snapped.

A decision had gone against Portugal, and the man who carried the hopes of a nation could take it no more.

He stormed to within a couple of inches of referee Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos’ face, unleashing a tirade of fury with real vitriol.

It earned him a meaningless booking. A yellow card which would have meant he missed the quarter final should Portugal had done the impossible and rescue themselves with only a couple of minutes remaining. Ronaldo knew that was never going to be the case, if there was a glimmer of opportunity, he would never have risked such sanction.

This was an outpouring, the final light from a start which was about to burn out, for this tournament at least.

It was a show of indignation, and an act which could have been better directed to any one of his team-mates, or even a mirror. The Mexican in black had not cost Portugal their quarter-final berth after all. But, this was the easier option.

It also provided fuel for the flames of an age-old argument of how referees in football are treated.

An instance of a football referee being abused by a player, is a particularly interesting one when it comes to the perception of it from other sports.

There isn’t another event on the sports field which brings others onto their high horse to look down.

The ‘holier than thou’ attitude from others is regular as clockwork.

One of the main proponents of this is rugby. A sport which for years has prided itself on respecting the referee, calling them ‘sir’, and quietly turning the other cheek when a decision goes against you.

It is a laudable approach, and one which has taught players both young and old the importance of officials and the role they play in the sport, and long may it continue.

However, they are not whiter than white. In recent times, we have seen elements creeping into the game which we would not want to see. Play acting and diving has been one, back chat to the referee has been another.

Yes, it’s not to the level of football, but people in glass houses and all that.

Ultimately issues for individual sports are exactly that, and even if incidents may look similar, they are far from it.

Could you ever recreate the scenario Ronaldo had gone through for the lead-up and during Saturday’s game with Uruguay, in a rugby setting?

The intense media invasion, the national expectation, the pressure he puts on himself to carry his country in the world’s premiere football competition.

Could you then guarantee players in other sports would not lash out in the same way?

There is no disputing, abuse of officials, in any sport is a blot on the game, but it is down to the individual sports to get their house in order.

It’s not a time for the sanctimonious, as ultimately everyone has some element of their game they would not be entirely proud of.

Indeed, lessons can be learned from others but if football is going to clean up its act then it is the sole responsibility of the governing bodies to do so.

In their eyes, punishment will fit the crime. And if they are happy that abuse of the referee it only worthy of a booking, then who are we to argue?

Does this say more about them, and the level of esteem they hold on officials?

It may not be something we agree with, but it’s hard to see a widespread resolution of such a contentious subject any time soon.

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