Rugby deservedly maintains its label as the most noble of the sports. It's been a sanctuary for the lofty values that inspired the growth of sport, which started in 19th century Britain, and extended to the rest of the world in an ever-growing, uplifting movement. Sport was conceived as a breeding ground for the best physical and moral values of the species. At the same time as sport turned professional (football and cricket first) it lost something of its initial noble intentions. A long time ago I read that when penalties were introduced in football they were considered a shameful punishment and for years there were goalkeepers who would lean on their post to let the ball go in.
Rugby has been an example to other sports
Rugby has always been an example to the other sports. When I discovered the Five Nations (now the Six Nations, thanks to the incorporation of Italy, which hasn't quite worked out yet) there was no league table drawn up week by week, nor a champion, unless one side beat all the others. And if one side lost to all the rest, they got a wooden spoon. There was no World Cup, and no professionalism. When the All Blacks travelled to South Africa to play the Springboks, it provoked a boycott by African countries of the Montreal Olympic Games. Rugby felt it had done nothing wrong, because the game was considered to be above all human conflicts, including racism.
Spain and the Romanian referee
Such belief comes from the fact that rugby has been the last hold-out of certain principles, one of the main ones being that the referee's decisions are not debated. And yet the Spanish national side has been robbed by a Romanian referee, who was named by the relevant president who also happens to be Romanian. Spain lost to Belgium and Romania will go to the World Cup thanks to that loss. For once, a referee has been shoved around (by us). For once, a Federation (ours) has presented a complaint. For once, Rugby sees itself facing a refereeing performance with a malicious appearance. How to deal with the situation? Do we punish the shoves on the referee or do we investigate the 28 penalties? Rugby is in shock.