Young England flank Calum Clark let himself and his team mates down on Sunday as he was red carded for a head butt in the final of the Junior World Championship against the junior All Blacks in Swansea.
Clark, who at 18 became the youngest forward to start a Guinness Premiership match when he made his debut for Leeds Carnegie last year, has been part of the Leeds Academy system since he was 14, and is regarded as an up and coming star of the English game.
He did his reputation no good on the weekend though as after already having been penalised and spoken to earlier on for foul play, he decided that with 15 minutes left in the game and his team down by 20, it was necessary to fly into a maul, leading with the head.
The red card ensued, and Clark marched off thinking hed done nothing wrong, despite making contact with the New Zealand player’s head not once, but twice.
After not having seen much of Clark in action, incidents like this do very little towards gaining respect for a young man who, more than likely, has a lot of talent and potential. Rugby isn’t a popularity contest, but a man’s character and the first impression goes a long way towards cementing a fanbase and gaining widespread recognition. The reaction from him, considering his age, was pretty appalling too.
Let’s hope in the future we see more of this highly regarded youngster, but for all the right reasons.
New Zealand went on to win 38-3 and lift the inaugural Junior World Championship trophy.