News... it breaks quickly and travels far and wide and that is exactly what happened yesterday afternoon when the BBC reported in the middle of yesterday afternoon that Sam Burgess had left Bath Rugby with immediate effect. All forms of media flew with social in particular soaring off the charts with thousands of tweets and opinions being delivered.
This morning the analysis continues in earnest, there are many strands of it each as sensitive as the other. Fingers are pointing and the ramifications are being discussed and speculated upon and I expect there to be a formal Bath statement this morning after South Sydney Rabbtohs delivered theirs last night.
Sam's immediate move back to Rugby League has shocked me, looking in from the outside I was under the impression that after a tough tournament he would go back to Bath Rugby, and dig his heels. My impression was that the tournament, however testing, would have given him the fire to prove those that he delivered him with criticism wrong. I did not expect Sam to shy away from the challenge of truly delivering in a sport that he has all of the attributes to excel at. Sam's potential has always been there however his short journey has illustrated, again, that the switch cannot be fast tracked and cannot be rushed. Switching professional codes takes time and energy, it can be mastered just look at the ultimate example - Sonny Bill Williams - however even he struggled at first and had to be patient to see the long term rewards.
There is no question that going from the back row to the centres was disruptive and hindered his development. A full pre-season with Bath would have seen him continue to push on from that Aviva Premiership Final performance in which we all thought 'here we go this is Sam Burgess starting to show the type of Union player he can be'. However we all know that path that occurred, the reasons given for it and what happened next.
Of course I do not live thousands of miles away from my family and have not been under the most intense scrutiny and pressure that Sam Burgess has, so I can only imagine how much that will have taken its toll. That said, Sam has shown huge strength of character with what he has dealt with in his life, both on and off the field, and his achievements are ones that you don't deliver with a shaky countenance.
I feel for his team mates left here in Rugby Union, for those at Bath that put so much time into his transition, be that the coaches on the field or the players that will have spent hours working with him to develop his knowledge. I'm sure that they all are feeling let down by his decision to up sticks and leave them at a time when they needed him to return and really flourish for the club after a shaky start to the season. I do emphasise with Sam as I expect that he will have found his Union experience more challenging and dare I say it more of a hinderance than it should ever have been. However, ultimately I feel most for those that have been affected along the way with regard to their home Rugby World Cup dreams. It's all a bit messy isn't it? And that wasn't ever the intention when this elite athlete switched codes.Suggest a correction