The three-game ban handed to Scotland rugby starlet Stuart Hogg will give the youngster some time to think about his actions at the Millennium Stadium in what was the Scots’ concluding fixture of an underwhelming 6 Nations tournament for the Murrayfield men.
Hogg didn’t do his teammates any favours on the pitch, his pole-axing of Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar, giving referee Jerome Garces no option but to send the full-back off. However, he did save his underperforming teammates from some flak, as the dismissal of Scotland’s brightest talent dominated the sport sections of Sunday’s papers.
Putting his red card to one side, Hogg has actually impressed me this week. He’s been saying all the right things: firstly that he’s apologised to his Welsh opponent, then publicly expressing his regret for a reckless moment, as well as saying sorry to his teammates and the Scottish fans.
No doubt a suspension is appropriate for receiving a red card, but I wonder if Hogg has already served the ‘real’ punishment, in that it couldn’t have been easy watching his teammates flounder, knowing fine well his involvement, or lack of it, led to a merciless Welsh side hammering Scotland by a record score.
But what many pundits, sports journalists, ex-players and social-media users failed to grasp when commenting on the incident is that sport is an adrenalin-charged area, and things happen from time to time which are completely out of character.
I’m not condoning what Hogg did, far from it. But incidents of this nature happen in sport all the time. What is important is that Hogg learns from it, and realises controlling your temper is vital if you want to make it to the very top of your sport.
He need look no further than David Beckham for inspiration. We all laughed at his petulant kick at Diego Simeone which saw him dismissed in England’s 1998 World Cup match against Argentina, and resulted in him being made the scapegoat for his side’s failure to progress in the tournament.
Hogg was no less or more than that against the Welsh last Saturday. But I’m sure in years to come he will have created more positive memories in rugby than that which he produced last week.
And even the true legends get it wrong sometimes, just ask Zinedine Zidane.