Take a look at the top of the Barclays Premier League and the Aviva Premiership. See anything familiar?
In football Chelsea are top, Manchester United second, Arsenal third and Manchester City fourth. Although Spurs finished fourth last season sixth-placed Chelsea were otherwise distracted by the small matter of winning both the Champions League and the FA Cup. The top four now may well be the top four in May, although not necessarily in this order. There will be upsets and shocks along the way but can you honestly see another team break into this top four permanently this season? No, neither can I.
In rugby champions Harlequins are top followed by usual suspects Northampton, Leicester and Saracens, the same four who finished in the top four last May and who competed in the play-offs. Again, there will be setbacks and unforeseen results but come May, 2013, will another team have broken into this cartel? I doubt it very much.
And so, after four and three games respectively, the old order has been established in football and rugby, which makes me wonder why the sports don't share more of the same, beginning with handshakes. Let's scrap them in football and replace it with an end of game tunnel to applaud each other, thus keeping respect and sportsmanship to the fore, and removing the continual controversy over shaking hands with people you have a grievance with. Whilst we're at it let's see football referees brandish a red card if told where to go by a player, or maybe even introduce a ten minute sin bin for such matters. It might see a few casualties for a couple of weeks but after that the behaviour on a football pitch, from the Premier League to the Sunday Leagues, would improve instantly. Rugby players still refer to a referee as "sir." Frankly some of the football referees, those who think it's all about themselves, don't deserve it, but it would make a massive difference to the way the game is played and perceived.
The old adage about football being a gentlemen's game played by thugs and rugby being a thugs' game played by gentlemen may not be strictly true any more, which is why the sports should embrace each other more. After all, both have a top four you could have named before the season even begun.