Passport-eating dog behind other scandals?
January 18, 2013
Is this dog responsible for many of rugby's mysteries? © Jason Tovey
Last week the rugby world was highly amused when Cardiff Blues' back Jason Tovey was unable to report for business in the Heineken Cup. The Welshman could not travel with his region to Toulon after his pet labrador, Buster, chewed his passport into such a state border officials would not permit him to enter France.
Tovey soon became the butt of jokes in the UK national media as paper after paper picked up the story and ran with it. Its obvious parallel to the old schoolboy excuse of the dog eating the schoolchild's homework making it a clear choice as quirky story of the day.
Similarly, Twitter was awash with jokes from fellow professionals, commentators and fans mocking Tovey for spinning a variation on the 'oldest excuse in the book'. However, deeper investigations by this column have revealed that the story has a far, far sinister overtone than at first glance.
It seems far from being an innocent, yet loveable, canine, Buster is the mastermind behind a series of rugby scandals and mishaps that include match fixing, forced player transfers, food poisoning, on pitch violence, interference in disciplinary committees, IRB vote rigging, changes to the game's laws and referee intimidation.
The eating of Tovey's passport, for instance, appears to have been a 'warning' to the outside half for the owner's failure to spend enough time rubbing the dog's belly each day after training.
However, as of yet no clear motive has been established for Buster's other alleged mischievous and sinister deeds. But significant amounts of circumstantial evidence exists which seems to confirm to any logical person that Buster is indeed the guilty party. Several sources have made accusations against Buster but have always refused to go public with their claims, fearful of repercussions from sharp teeth.
"If Buster can arrange for the entire New Zealand rugby squad and management to suffer food poisoning before their loss to England last year," said one source who wished to cling to anonymity. "What do you think he'd do to me, a two-bit club player in Scotland? I'd be chewed up and spat out before the ink was dry on the charges."
Credible witnesses allege that Buster 'runs' the European game; acting on a whim to satisfy his urges and do whatever amuses him and punishing anyone who dares cross him. Ironically, Buster hides in plain view, always attending games at Newport and Cardiff. However, as the usual attendance of a Welsh regional game is a man and his dog nobody even bats an eyelid as the (alleged) criminal mastermind gazes upon the game and players he utterly controls.
Owner Tovey seems genuinely unaware of Buster's alleged activities and sabotage. "What makes Buster so dangerous," said a source who would only call himself Mr. X, "Is there is no rhyme or reason behind his behaviour. One minute he's sneaking into New Zealand's hotel to secretly lick their food so they all get food poisoning and lose to England, the next he's going around to the house of Dylan Hartley and barking all night so the hooker doesn't get any sleep before a big game. It makes no sense."
Internal European Rugby Club Ltd documents seen by this website revealed that in 2011 the ERC considered calling Buster to account for alleged attempts at intimidating a television match official after a European cup game involving Munster and London Irish.
However, when the ERC official was sent to Tovey's house to issue papers he 'took one long into the gorgeous labrador's puppy dog eyes' and was unable to issue the writ. "He was just so adorable," said the official when called to account for his actions. "I just couldn't do it. I said he looked a good boy. A very good boy. A very, very good boy. And then he wagged his tail and licked me. I mean, what was I to do?"
However, just three weeks later the official returned home from work to find his beloved cat dead on the lawn and his favourite house plans chewed up and spat out. Whilst no direct link to the tragic incident and Buster has ever been established, many feel it to be more than a mere coincidence.
So far the accusations against Buster include:
"We're through the looking glass here, people," said Mr. X. "White is black and black is white. Rugby has to confront this terror."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The East Terrace (www.theeastterrace.com) offers an offside view of life in the rugby world
The Monday Maul turns its attention to drunken nights out, a blunt-talking coach, hidden agendas and crooked feeds
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game