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I’m not much of a rugby fan, but I jumped at the opportunity to watch a few games last weekend when my stepson’s junior club hosted a few matches.
We couldn’t sit in the pavilion because of strict Covid regulations, but I could follow the action on the field just fine from the cricket field next to the rugger pitch.
Having not played matches for two years, the young players showed some obvious signs of rustiness.
Many of them were slow and overweight and most were very unfit, as you can expect after many months away from the game.
But the standard of rugby was higher than I bargained for.
What stole my heart, however, was the joy the members of two township development teams harvested from the sport.
They were clearly not schooled in the finer technicalities of the great game, but more than made up for that with enthusiasm and natural flair.
I was converted to an instant fan.
Something bothered me when I got home. Late on Sunday, I realised what it was. These boys – my stepson, the flyhalves who fumbled once or twice, the fullbacks and particularly the township boys with their broad smiles – were held away from the rugby field for almost two years by The Virus.
Some of them missed their under-16 and under-18 years and will never play the game again. Apart from that, parents could not see their children play sport for two years. Not rugby, not athletics. Not football nor cricket.
I could clearly see it on their faces as they peeked through the fence next to the field.
This pandemic had robbed us of loved ones and incomes and freedom. But, to my mind most importantly, it has robbed us of life as we knew it.
Politicians can call it a “new normal” as many times as they choose, but there is nothing normal about a life where most boys lose the best rugby years of their lives and if they play the rare game, parents have to watch the action from a nearby field just to get al little taste of sport.
Get vaccinated. Let’s beat this virus. We want our lives back.