In the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, the Austrian Nonnberg Abbey nuns mused about how to pull effervescent young novice Maria into line.
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria they sang, eventually packing her off to the Von Trapps to see whether life outside the Abbey would do the trick.
The Melbourne Rebels have a similar problem with overseas signing Danny Cipriani, who has every mountain to climb to regain respect from his club and teammates over his off-field goings-on.
And it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll be packed off too. I mean, he’s 23, not sixteen going on seventeen.
The story to date is that Danny doesn’t seem to have that much self-discipline, especially when it comes to a drink. No, it isn’t quite of NRL mungo proportions (he’s not ‘raping and pillaging’) but perhaps at a more sophisticated English level. They call them Hooray Henrys over there.
His lack of self-discipline has got him into trouble a couple of times – but wait, there’s more. After being stood down for the Reds match last weekend, after he broke the code of conduct by heading out on the town in Sydney with Richard Kingi, it appears he got on the turps again the following night.
Importantly — and in a professional rugby club environment this is a hanging offence – he didn’t turn up for training the following day. The Dandenong Hills are alive with the sound of… gnashing teeth!
As a consequence, he’s been left at home like a lonely goatherd as the squad head off to South Africa for a couple of weeks. Danny will be training with the dirty dirties in Melbourne and attending to his other obligations, apparently.
They’re saying the decision to remove him from the tour was a team decision. Geez, he must be seriously offside with his cohorts to ‘lose their confidence’. Maybe the Rebels should have listened to what was coming out of the England squad last year before they signed him.
Here’s what I wrote in February 2010:
As for the signing of flyhalf (or fullback) Danny Cipriani, that seems to me to be a fairly risky venture. Despite the fact that during his brief career he has played for England on seven occasions, he’s certainly had his highs and lows.
The highs are punctuated by a precocious talent and ‘breath of fresh air’ feeling amongst the stodgy and conservative English setup. The lows have been well reported and relate to his character, or alleged lack of it. By all accounts he marches to the beat of a different drummer and is not a team player.
The Posh and Becks lifestyle is neither here nor there. However, this guy reportedly ain’t a popular dude amongst his fellow players. Nothing antagonises Australians more than Hooray Henry prima donnas.
They’re trying to set up a unique culture in Melbourne – I think part of it was called a ‘no dickheads policy’. I’m struggling to see where this fellow fits into it?
Now, that was common knowledge back then. What does that say about the professionals who employed him? Leopards don’t change their spots, do they? Martin Johnson had obviously got it right.
It’s clear that this guy has got some demons to overcome. Maybe he’s decided that downunder isn’t all its cracked up to be. He doesn’t seem to be a happy camper, but it was his choice to come here. You can tell he’s a quality player but for someone with his background you’re probably expecting a little bit more.
There are still places in the professional game for people with a dash of personality, chutzpah or a bit of individualism. However, rugby is a team game and everyone has to pull their weight, both on and off the field. If he’s not prepared to do that then he probably needs to be discarded.
Three strikes and you’re out! Has he reached that threshold yet? It’s not as though these ‘offences’ are major but I guess cumulatively they’re starting to add up and everbody’s patience seems to be at an end.
Danny Boy, you’re going to have to smarten up. You’re a commodity contracted to deliver on your undoubted potential. Whether you become a ‘misunderstood’ lost soul like Gav or not, well, that’s up to you. We want to see you at your best – otherwise, it’s your reputation on the line.
Maybe the PRO D2 in France is starting to look good after all?