Cristiano Ronaldo was none too happy about his early exit from last week's Champions League match between Real Madrid and Ludogorets, necessitated by this late challenge in the final minutes. After the game, the winger described the tackle thus: "It was a very ugly tackle and it seemed as if we were playing a game of rugby." Maybe not so surprisingly, rugby nation went funny in the head with the comparison.
Ronaldo's point—that there is an acceptable level of physicality in rugby that is unacceptable in soccer—is perfectly reasonable. In rugby, sprinting full tilt at an opponent and crashing into him is part of the game. In soccer, that's the sort of thing that gets you sent off.
Not that the rugby crowd was so understanding. To them, Ronaldo was characterizing their sport as a mindless clash of artless brutes. According to Globo Esporte, the first group to take issue with his statements was the Portuguese Rugby Association. They invited their soccer compatriot to join them for a game of rugby, to prove that the sport isn't as violent as Ronaldo imagines.
The more long-winded, mushy-headed rebuke came from a former rugby player-turned journalist, Fermín de la Calle. He wrote an open letter to Ronaldo, which is basically a tough-guy hockey meme in text form. Here's the whole thing, translated by Google, because there are too many great lines to leave any out:
I am writing this letter to you as a rugby player. Last Wednesday you placed, in my opinion, some unfortunate statements by warning after the conclusion of a game, "it seemed less like football and more like rugby" because an opponent gave you a kick back without ability to play the ball. I wanted to clarify that in rugby kicking an opponent is strictly prohibited and that any type of aggression is sanctioned by direct expulsion. I'll also say the player, besides being punished by his club and the regulatory committee, is expelled and apologizes in his locker mates after the match for leaving them at a disadvantage and mortgage work all week. For us the matches are played during the week (in training) and weekend rehearsals perch.
Rugby is a contact sport, tough and aggressive, but not violent. In rugby there are codes of honorable conduct all respect scrupulously, so you will never see a rugby player simulating a foul or aggression. They often say the only lie that is permitted to a rugby player is what the doctor said to continue in the field. This weekend a player was hit in the face, they broke his cheekbone and continued to play for an hour he is not left at a disadvantage.
You've seen our shirts bearing ridges, which indicate the position on the field, but not the name, it is not important who sees that shirt. Importantly who view "do its just your job, but all his work". So when we write an essay stating nobody celebrates his name, celebrate with colleagues, to blame for the ball always comes to us in the best conditions. So we do not give Ballons d'or or have pichichis. Moreover we head to the referee calling him "sir", only captains talk to him and we never blame him for the defeat because we are aware that we are wrong more times than they.
I will say that in rugby continuity prevails, the philosophy of play affects the ball is always alive. So when you see a tackle, the tackler releases the tackled and the tackled falling leaves the ball on the ground to release. In rugby the ball must always be in play for the final whistle the first commandment of our sport is met: the best always wins. The anti-game is severely persecuted and made an example of, so you'll never see rugby players wasting time or simulating lesions. Indeed, there is the figure of the change of blood, because the injured, once dressed, returns to field very cumbersome to be wound, to continue helping their peers.
In rugby the opponent is the opponent on the field and a mate off it. He's never the enemy because we share a passion and a code of conduct that is respected beyond the field. Hence in rugby we meet the opponent in the hallway, win or lose, and share a few beers in the third period after the skin leave us in the field. For all this, Cristiano, I think your statement was unfortunate, and I understand that ignorance of our sport. From here I invite you to go to a rugby match wherever and whenever you want. You and anyone else will always be welcome. And, of course, you're invited to join us for a few beers at the third period. Without more, health and rugby.
De la Calle basically exhausts his vocab finding different ways to gaybait those diving, whining, shin-clutching soccer divas while holding up the tough, honorable, selfless rugby players as real men. The Twitter praise for the letter proves that his sentiment is a popular one among that demo. Switch out rugby for hockey and Ronaldo for Lebron, and you have an almost exact replica of the whole Rich Peverley meme, only with lots more words and without the use of a meme generator.