Rivalry is the stuff of sport, certainly in the newspapers where slanging matches, particularly in the football world, fill many a column inch.

Neil Robertson commented last year that he thought snooker players were too friendly with each other. Of course, some are more friendly than others.

It’s 20 years now since Alex Higgins threatened – within earshot of the then WPBSA chairman John Spencer – to have Dennis Taylor shot if he ever went back to Northern Ireland.

They were team mates in the World Cup at the time.

More recently, we’ve had Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy opting not to become Facebook friends and Graeme Dott and Ian McCulloch not exactly planning to team up for the World Doubles.

Much has been made this week of the rivalry between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby in the wake of their Pokerstars.com Masters final.

I think O’Sullivan was mainly down on himself, not Selby, but he did appear to get wound up towards the end.

In the penultimate frame, O’Sullivan fluked a snooker. The camera did not pan to Selby but he presumably smiled, as if to say, ‘that was lucky.’ O’Sullivan’s response was, ‘How can you moan?’ as if Selby was the luckiest player who ever lived.

In the heat of battle – and it was some battle – such things do, from time to time, get said, although Selby wasn’t overly impressed.

Answering questions on the Eurosport website today, he said: “I suppose it is true that there were times in the match when we both had the run of the balls, but I didn’t think it was the right time for him to be making such a statement.”

However, Selby isn’t the sort to lose his rag and seeing O’Sullivan begin to crack probably gave him confidence rather than put him under pressure.

Not everyone thought O’Sullivan conducted himself well at the post match interview but this was mere seconds after a very disappointing defeat and I believe he should be cut some slack.

It wasn’t a bit of fun, it was a major final. Steve Davis could memorably barely utter a word after losing to Dennis Taylor in the 1985 world final. It’s hard to say the right things when you are completely devastated.

O’Sullivan left the arena before Selby received his trophy. This was wrong. He should have stayed for a few more minutes.

“I’d like to think I would have shown a little bit more respect at the end. We are paid to play in these events, that's our job, and if Ronnie had won I would have stayed to applaud him,” Selby told Eurosport.

In the press conference that followed O’Sullivan suggested Selby would struggle to win the world title because of his inconsistency, which he compared to his own game.

“I think I'll take what he said as compliment,” was Selby’s verdict on this.

“For me Ronnie is among the top two or three greatest players to have played the game, I have massive respect for him as a player, and if he is putting me in a similar position to him, then, as I said, I'll take it as a big compliment. When it comes to my game, I don't mind having the same problems as him.”

I’m not sure it was meant as a compliment but Selby is right not to dwell on it.

Such is the stuff of sport. I remember Stephen Hendry losing to Mark Johnston-Allen (who beat him three times out of three) and then saying he shouldn’t even have been in the same room as him.

He later apologised to Mark, who found the whole thing hilarious.

The fact is, things get said in the heat of the moment, usually after a disappointing defeat.

If we want our sportsmen and women to be human, we should accept that they will, at times, be brutally honest and just say what is on their mind.

Surely this is better than bland PR epithets, even if their comments do sometimes leave a sour taste in the mouth.


shaun said...

we all no how good o sullivan is but my god can he whine.just for once it would be nice to hear him say the best player won instead of craving attention like a 2 year old all the time.Grow up and knuckle down ronnie

Trevor said...

So dave i take it ronnie did not use the f****** c*** remark that some people claimed he used during that little exchange ? How do some people come up with this stuff.

jamie brannon said...

At the end of the day though Ronnie is being honest the only player he feels that can beat him at his best is Higgins and that's why he finds defeat hard to take against anyone else. When Higgins has outplayed him he has been gracious in his praise. Selby's personality in my mind is not conducive to Ronnie's. Selby is very safe with his comments and just not 'rock 'n' roll' like a Ronnie. I agree with Dave about staying for the trophy presentation. I'm glad though there is a rivalry as sport thrives on it, that's why next weeks Manchester Derby is more important than just getting to a Wenbley final. I have to say I don't remeber O'Sullivan saying "how can you moan?" but as a commentator you have better chance of picking up what there saying.

Murphy v Maguire goes back further than Facebook though doesn't it. Dott's comments were an embarassment at the Crucible saying McCulloch takes too long. He does but does Dott recall the 2006 final snoozefest.

Finn said...

By looking at the footage, how about you take a look for yourself, it's there on i-player.

Make up your mind for yourself. There is a split on the snooker forum as to whether he said it or not. (see thread Ronnie abuses Selby)

Personally, I think he did say it, but it doesn't offend me in any way. I think it is important for people to have their own opinion rather than asking Dave to be their mouthpiece.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you Shaun.

Anonymous said...

good post Dave, though id rather you hadnt brought up one of the only times Mr Hendry was out of order when comparing it to Ronnie who IMHO is habitually out of order.

at least you had a small go at him, and rightly so.

hopefully you also post on here as "anonymous" and get more of your feelings over without any possibility of backlash (by his biased fans)

commend selby for his comments though...

Anonymous said...

Trevor, i know a female fan who was sitting very close to him and that is what she thought she heard, before all the hullabaloo on the internet mentioned it...

G said...

Hi Dave, do we not think it's about time we stopped apologising for Ronnie and making accuses for him and his downright bad behaviour? I understand you (and others) giving him the benefit if the doubt in certain situations but do you not think that after repeated incidences we should start to take a harder line, even if he is the "money" on the tour? Let's call a spade a spade here. It's not the first time he has acted so ungracefully and petulantly after losing a final. Sure it hurts to lose but does it hurt Ronnie any more than it hurts every other player who contests and loses a final? Remember China? And two separate incidents in previous years there?? He needs to grow up and everyone else needs to stop molly-coddling him.

Anonymous said...


Bottom line ronnie is the main draw and without out him snooker would be in big trouble.Lets face it how many would pay to watch the likes of selby,dott,ebdon ect.Very few as attendances when this lot play are very low.Without ronnie snooker would be in trouble.Ask Barry Hearn.

Anonymous said...

Dave: how come since Hearn has become the president of WSA your blog is full of ronnie o'sullivan worship?

I think you should stick to your own opinions and not write what people like to hear.

Anonymous said...

As has been pointed out by Dave in his posting, RoS wears his heart on his sleeve and when he says something he's being honest about it. If he did swear at Selby he was only being truthful.

Black_cat from TSF said...

Surely some people cannot stand being reminded of the only major occasion in which Hendry acted like a petulant (think about how many times you've heard/read this adjective in relation to Ronnie and how disgustingly condescendent it is!!), person.
The more reason they should be reminded. So that snooker players get knocked off their pedestals of absolute sportsmanship and flawless behaviour and pristine reputation. It's unrealistic and preposterous to view them like that.
For they are human beings, not rewindable robots with false, sickening things to say after a huge match they lost.

Bryan said...

I have watched my recording of the match a couple of times now. I am sure, after repeated viewing, that ronnie said to mark twice "how can you moan,? how can you moan?" then he sat down and said "F****** C*** " sipped his water and again went "how can you moan" again. Willie thorne after wasnt sure what he said, but i think he did.

Then after the safety on the yellow selby was tapping the table as if to make a point that he was still going to me sporting.

Rivalary can be great for the sport

Anonymous said...

It was graceless for O'Sullivan to walk out of the oresentation ceremony before Selby picked up the trophy, but that's O'Sullivan all over I'm afraid. The truth is O'Sullivan doesn't like Selby and has made no attempt to hide it. Applaud Selby on his comments, he was the better man and the better person.

Anonymous said...

I can understand any player not being overly forthcoming after losing a big final as was the case in 1985 with Steve Davis.
Ronnie made John Parrott's job of interviewing him decidedly awkward last Sunday, which is puzzling as Ronnie is not only a bad loser but an ungracious winner most of the time.
He claims not to care when he wins so why be so lacking in class when he lost to Selby?
One of the emotions is wrong and Ronnie is deluding himself if he thinks otherwise.
He is a great player but he has become predictable and transparent as a person.
The reason he may never win the World title again is because he has was found out as a person the other night.

Trevor said...

Finn firstly i dont have access to iplayer and secondly whoever i ask a question of is none of your business. How does that grab ya ?

SnookeromAnka said...

I admire the people who are moaning: "He needs to grow up".... Hey, firstly, both of the players aren't gentlemen at all. Secondly - what can you offer apart from 'should be banned! it's an order!' ? How are you going to educate Ronnie?

Finn said...

Firstly, you do have access to i-player if you are able to post on this blog (it's called the internet).
Secondly, it is everyone's business if you post your opinion on a blog.
Thirdly, read the opinion of the people who have posted on here regarding the incident; if you re-read my initial post it was in the defence of people of who you said: "how do some people come up with this stuff".
Fourthly, don't resort to conflict when you are clearly in the wrong with petty comments like : "how does that grab ya".

Claus Christensen said...

It was just Ronnie being Ronnie after a terrible defeat having had three chances to close the match.

"It was a tough week, wasn't it, to get to the final"

Ronnie said: "Not really..." and displayed his disappointment quite clearly. He should have stayed for the entire ceremony but who cares really whether he had stayed in the background - it was Shelby's time to enjoy the spotlight.

I'm not pissed off about Ronnie leaving. He picked up his cheque and waved to the crowd so it wasn't exactly a major scandal.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
The comments posted by people on this blog are increasingly becoming 'have a go and retaliate' between the posters. This has only come in in the last 12 months. While the quality of your posts has remained constant I would like to suggest that the 'commenters' have a look back 2 or 3 years on the archive and pick up some tips on quality commenting!

shaun said...

your missing the point snookeromanka were not all calling for him to be banned or punishing him but just show a bit more dignity in defeat.i accept it was a long tough week and a gruelling final and i for one enjoy a bit of rivalry in the game but for god sake ronnie when are you going to take the step to adulthood and stop behaving loke a wuss

Dave H said...

I believe the rule of thumb for leaving comments is very simple: would I say this to the person's face?

Of all the invective heaped on O'Sullivan [and Selby], how many of the people angrily typing away would say what they had written directly to the players given the chance?

My guess would be hardly any and probably none at all.

shaun said...

and why would that be dave its cleary true what people are saying just because we dont all see him as the messiah as you seem to do dont mean were wrong.Also for the record why would we not say it to his face after all hes just a spoilt brat

Meredith(GTBJ) said...

I've already forgotten who won The Masters. I shut the tv and went to bed right after O'Sullivan lost. Later, to hear that O'Sullivan didn't stay only makes me wonder why Selby wasn't happier that he had an entire auditorium cheering his victory and compelled to comment to O'Sullivan's actions in reflective eurosport blogs.

Anonymous said...

I'd happily tell Ronnie off to his face! I doubt he'd ever put himself in a position where he'd have to answer any criticism. I've got 3 kids and am happy to confront them if they're rude or petulant - Ronnie would be no different!

Anonymous said...

well you are certainly wrong on your comment at 1:59, because i know several of them and have said quite a lot of comments that ive posted on here (and elsewhere) to their faces.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Has anybody got a youtube link to this frame/incident?

Dave, although I agree with your comment, do you you think, overall player's are given a pretty easy time at the post-match press conference. Most of the time it seems somewhat easier, than say what the tennis player's face on tour. Some hacks are quite hostile to players.

Don't have a problem with O'Sullivan's reaction straight after the defeat. He was nearly the same all week in the BBC studio after matches. I do advise folk on here to read O'Sullivan's post match reaction to his Master's defeat. As always, it makes for interesting reading....When doesn't he!?

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

There you go Joe..


Anonymous said...

Joe, i dont really find what ROS has to say interesting in the slightest.

he acts like a spoiled child and gets away with more than most other would IMHO.

hes ignorant and cheeky and arrogant.

his interviews that i dont find interesting are nothing but predictable....he regurgitates the same "i am chucking it" ...im no good, stuff all the time and its boring.

if he wasnt so good at snooker and didnt play fast other normal people would tell him the things above, but because he is fragile and a fans favourite, cos of how quick he plays etc, he gets away with it.

come down hard on him i say, let him leave, he will one day anyway, by force or by retiring or not being good enough any more.

when that day comes snooker will survive. it has before and it will again. only silly people think it wont. it may take a huge dent, but it would be worth it to get the sport looked on by others as not some circus where the top performer only ever gets put on the naughty step.

Eurig said...

It's a real pleasure reading your posts Dave. I love snooker, and I'm so happy that such a talented journalist is here to comment on the game. Snooker is lucky to have you!

Anonymous said...

SIR!!!! Ronnie's done this Ronnie's done that, BLAH BLAH F*****G BLAH, FFS get a grip of yourself's.

Anonymous said...

7.55pm - Spot on. I'd say to Ronnie. If you say you want to go then do it! Just GO! You are a cog in the wheel of a machine - of course, you put bums on seats - but people are beginning to look at you in the same way as they did Alex Higgins. They were not just turning up to watch the marvellous snooker but also to see what stupid and infantile thing you'll do next. The game WILL survive without you - go on, test it! I can't be arsed with your arrogance and neither I suspect do MANY others.

Anonymous said...

Cheers 6.29pm.

to 7.55 I understand what your saying, but the guy provides great copy (and soundbites) for sport's journalists up and down the land.

Good or bad...

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

Those who wish for ROS to leave are living in cloud cuckoo land. If Ronnie left the sport it would definitely go backwards by several years. It is these people who are being infantile talking about it when they need to be realistic.

Anonymous said...

I was quoting what Ronnie himself regularly says. He should just put up or shut up!

Anonymous said...


i do not deny that that is the case.

However the sport will survive (or else we are all just waiting for him to retire for the sport to cease...which wont happen when he stops playing.

So thats why i believe its time to stop mollycoddling him.

jamie brannon said...

Dave, is right about this saying it to his face thing. I make a rule about only making comments that I know I would be prepared to say to their face. It gets me when you have people saying on Twitter he's a twat or an idiot. I had a mate who called Sol Campbell a tosser, but he wouldn't say that to Sol's face.

Anonymous said...

Jamie stop bumlicking Dave

he was quite clearly wrong.

SOME of us WOULD and HAVE said it to the players as, guess what, they know "normal people" like us and can take criticism.

obviously not everyone on here knows them, but i do, though not all, and i have said it to them.

if i had a view of Sol and wished to express it to him and had the chance, i would. only thing he could do back is verbal me otherwise he could end up breaking the law, so id have nothing to lose.

jamie brannon said...

I think constructive criticism is entirely different from a personal insult. If my mate had called Sol Campbell a tosser, he may have smacked him and in some ways people would understand Sol's actions.

Anonymous said...

id never understand him hitting out. Grow up. This is a snooker blog, nnt a chat in the pub about thugs or violence.