Sunday, 5 March 2017

To cut your losses or to keep hoping?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the conundrum of when to continue trying for something unlikely and when to cut your loses and give up.

It's been playing in my mind because of work issues but I've been inspired in my decision making by recent comments by Alex Goode and Chris Ashton.

Goode's interview about being dropped by England was heart wrenching in the fact that it's obvious how much he wants to get back in the shirt, how much he's prepared to sacrifice to be the best he can be and by how much it hurts when it doesn't happen. He's not getting much hope from Camp England right now but he's not ready to walk away from the dream and chase the money instead.

Because, of course, this is what many say Ashton has done.

He hasn't though.

What Chris Ashton has done has been pragmatic and put sense over heart. I was fortunate enough to speak to him last week and you could see in every part of his body language when people mention the Toulon move how much he is struggling with the choice he has made. He didn't want to leave Saracens but he had to make a decision. His situation is not like Goode's. It's not a case of trying and proving that he deserves another shot at the white shirt. Ashton has been through too much with the RFU, the media and the fickle nature of public opinion. His career in this country is forever linked to the disciplinary panels and their outcomes.

I truly believe that the 'biting' incident that occurred during the Northampton game was a cynical play by Saints players to get Ashton in trouble. If you put your arm forcefully up to someone's mouth it's always likely to end certain ways: when a person, any person, feels in danger (like when their airway is being impeded) they react in manners not nessecarily in keeping with their character. Opening the mouth to increase the ability to breathe is a natural reaction to it being covered, and one the Saints player used to his full advantage.

I understand why Ashton has decided that his time playing in this country is over. Would he ever get a fair hearing again should anything else happen? No, I don't think he would, I don't think he did back in the autumn quite frankly.

So I get why he's made the choice he has and as a supporter of the team and the individuals that make up that team I will support his choice and wish him all the best in the world in Toulon.

I hope he, his wife and their child have the best of times living out in France for as long as he is there.

I hope, when all is said and done and Ashton retires, that he comes home to Saracens and can act as a mentor to the academy youngsters who may not realise just how easily the public, media and RFU can turn on a player.

I hope he can pass on to the future the wisdom that his past has taught him.

I hope he can come back with a smile on his face for fond memories and a full and happy career to look back on.

I hope there is still hope for both Chris Ashton and Alex Goode. They both deserve it.

I hope I find some hope soon.

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