Donncha O’Callaghan Raises Serious Issues Regarding Treatment Of Gerbrandt Grobler

Have some compassion.

Former Munster and Ireland lock Donncha O’Callaghan has written an excellent piece in the Times today regarding the Gerbrandt Grobler case that is a must read.

The Worcester Warriors captain addresses the issue wonderfully, and has asked that we have some compassion for the South Africa and all he has already been put through.

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Firstly O’Callaghan says he agrees that Grobler should not have been signed, and acknowledges the problems with doping. But he says we should ‘love the sinner and hate the sin.’

A religious line has been knocking around my head while the Gerbrandt Grobler controversy has raged these past two weeks: “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

First of all, the sin. I hate doping. I absolutely abhor the practice. I’m not going to try to argue that drugs are not a problem in our beautiful sport and that offences like Grobler’s — or indeed Carlo Del Fava’s — are isolated. The issue of drugs in rugby is not a canard or something that’s media-hyped past reality. It exists and is a topic — from its prevalence, to testing, to supplements — that I want to examine in this column in issues to come.

Should Grobler have been signed? No. And it’s right that questions have been asked of Munster and the IRFU this week. Mistakes have been made and they must not be repeated.

In terms of Grobler himself, O’Callaghan is not happing with how he has been complete and utterly “savaged.:

Often this week I’ve read or heard that this debate is not about Grobler per se, but about the powers that be at Munster or the IRFU. I find that standard disclaimer hard to square with the intensity of the criticism that’s gone his way. The man has been savaged.

Imagine being Grobler this week, nine thousand miles from home, away from family, buddies, your whole support network. You’ve done something wrong, made an awful decision, been caught and punished. Now you’re in Ireland where you’ve been working steadily for more than six months but then — bang — your past catches up with you,

There’s been a social media outcry against Grobler — there is a social media outcry against someone most days as far as I can make out. These things can abate for a moment or so when everyone starts retweeting a message about something like the perils of depression and urging you to take care of your mental health. It’s OK not to feel OK.

Well, if I were in Grobler’s position I would be feeling very far from OK. How could he possibly be all right? No matter what people’s views on his choice to dope in 2014, I think they need to be sensitive to somebody who is in an extremely vulnerable place.

The hang-em-high, absolutist take that’s adopted on any number of issues nowadays is something that does not sit easily with me. The idea of rehabilitation, of redemption, is central to most moral systems — be that in my religion, or other faiths, or for people who don’t believe in any higher power but are no less devout in their practice of leading a good life.

As for Munster defending Grobler, O’Callaghan says he sees it as “basic human kindness.”

Grobler has done wrong, served a ban but I’d bet the pressure and shame that he’s felt, particularly of late, are the worst sentence of all.

At Munster, no matter what they think of what he’s done, they won’t throw him under the bus. You might view that as misguided loyalty fuelled by the famous siege mentality. I’d see it as basic human kindness.

They’re good people at that club, capable of separating the crime from the young man who must be going through hell.

You can read the piece in its entirety here