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When I got to high school, my mother decided that I was too precious to play rugby and insisted that I sign up for a less violent sport.
I suggested tennis but she was concerned about the possibility of a ball hitting me in the eye and blinding me for life. Or worse, in the testicular department, thereby rendering me unable to provide her with grandchildren.
Then again, the upside of not being able to spawn would mean I’d never find a wife. I would be able to stay with mummy forever. She was conflicted.
By the time I was dragged kicking and screaming into matric, having written off her car and crashed my father’s motorbike, she was considerably less conflicted. The day after setting fire to my school blazer, it was clear that my options were limited to detention without trial, committal to a mental institution or conscription into the army. I chose the latter. It turned out that all three options were pretty much contained in just the one, anyway.
Back then, you had to have a damn good excuse not to play rugby. Obviously I couldn’t tell the sociopath of a sports master that my mother wouldn’t let me play on the preposterous grounds that bringing glory to the school might not be worth a shattered spine or minimal brain damage.
Tennis got me out of rugby at school and the army, although I was once forced into a game during basics in Heidelberg when I walked past the sports field just as one of the forwards was killed. The short time I spent on that rock-hard field was the only really terrifying experience in the two years I wasted as a signalman.
Like most people, I have been sucked into watching the World Cup. I tend to support the underdog, especially if he doesn’t have a history of brutality, genocide or casual colonial oppression. That pretty much rules out everyone apart from Wales. And maybe Canada, although French is still spoken in some parts, which seems gratuitously cruel.
Japan did terrible things to their military adversaries and, more recently, to Scotland. And yet I found myself shouting for Japan. At the same time, whenever it looked like Scotland was about to score, I shouted for them, too. I don’t really know what I’m doing.
What puts me off rugby is that it has too many rules. Tennis, you hit the ball out, that’s it. Cricket, you get bowled or caught and it’s back to the stands. Polo, your horse plays up, you shoot it. Rugby is unnecessarily complicated and there is way too much stopping and starting for reasons which make no sense.
The game would be far more entertaining without the ref. And while we’re at it, let’s do away with the linesmen, too. Let the game sprawl. Give it room to breathe. If the ball goes into the stands, allow the players to go after it. Chase it down the freeway and across Japan. I want to see games that last for a year. The ball is in touch if it crosses the border and the last man standing wins.
Trust me. I know what I’m talking about. I once applied for the position of director of rugby at an elite private school in Joburg. It went like this:
Congratulations on having the courage and wisdom to create a position like this. People think there is something wrong with me when I tell them that the reason education is in crisis is because schools are not focusing enough on rugby.
Without a director of rugby, a school is little more than a place in which young people congregate to have their heads filled with rubbish like science and history. Would you believe that they are even being taught filth like evolution theory? No wonder our prisons and lunatic asylums are overflowing.
I am pleased to see that a Christian school has taken the lead in showing the government where its priorities should lie insofar as teaching the next generation something of real value is concerned.
As Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, nor those who play not rugby shall inherit the Kingdom of God”.
Far too many schools in this country treat rugby as if it were just another homoerotic activity like cricket or hockey. Tennis, needless to say, is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord and yet it is still played openly, often in front of children and the elderly. May their rotten souls burn in the eternal hellfire of damnation.
When I have the job, I will make it a rule that any player who scores a try, drop goal or conversion and then turns to wave at his mother or wiggle his hips for the cameras will be forcibly removed from the field and locked in the sin bin, a one-metre-square steel box I have built, where he will remain until he is able to recite the Ten Commandments in their original Aramaic.
Players like Bryan Habana set an outstanding example by giving credit to God whenever they score, make a pass, kick the ball into touch or even tie up their shoelaces correctly. There is nothing that gladdens my heart more than seeing a player fall to one knee and point to the sky. He is letting us know that God is guiding him – that he is simply a tool.
Having said that, I do find the tactic of bowing heads and kneeling in silence to be marginally less intimidating than that disturbing pagan dance the New Zealanders do. With your permission, I will get the lads to perform something out of the Crusades. I expect the swords will be provided by the school. This should work particularly well when we play against the Muslim, Jewish and old Prussian schools.
Rest assured that under my firm hand the team will return to the ancient practice of allowing forward passes, using a sheep’s bladder for a ball and stoning the unmarried mothers whose first born play in the losing team.
There will also be none of this drinking of water which turns to wine at half-time. Quite frankly, I think it is an appalling practice and sets a terrible example for the boys.
Instead, we will share vials of amyl nitrate, a biblical balm which, as Moses discovered, goes a long way towards boosting team morale. Unfortunately this energising ambrosia has over time been misappropriated by sexual deviants for purposes which rarely have anything to do with rugby, but that is not our concern.
I shall be taking leave before I start work and will sort out the paperwork when I arrive.
Ben “Tighthead” Trovato.
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