Sport / Columnists

Jon Swift
3 minute read
10 Oct 2017
2:54 pm

‘Rugbay no for me, I’ll stick wi fitba, goff’

Jon Swift

In the cold light of retrospect it was one of those conversations which was never really destined to either result in a meeting of minds or truly lead anywhere.

Jon Swift

The Arithmetically-challenged Golfer, the self-styled authority on all things to do with sport, was attempting to explain to the Incomprehensible Scot, the reasons why the Springboks came up short against the All Blacks in Saturday’s Rugby Championship encounter at Newlands.

In the defence of both sides of the equation it must be said at this juncture that the Arithmetically-challenged One has a fairly simplistic view of rugby in general and a distinctly one-eyed approach to the South African game in particular, though some of the points he makes tend to have the ring of veracity about them.

For his part, the Incomprehensible One freely admits that if it does not concern “tha fitba” or “tha goff”, he tends to become a little bit lost especially by the nuances of “tha rugbay”, which tends to dominate the discussions of the usual gathering. And at this point in time, the Scot is rightly more concerned about the rehab from a knee operation – the result of long-term wear and tear stemming from his own “fitba” career than the fitness or otherwise of the Springboks to overcome the all-conquering New Zealand national side. It must also be pointed out that he had not watched the Test in Cape Town.

“Wha I canna ken is tha fuss aboot a one-point loss,” he remarked. “Is tha no so bad as bein hammered 57-0 tha lass time oot?” It was a perfectly valid question. “Perhaps,” the sporting oracle conceded, “but this was a game the Boks should have won and the supporters out there expect them to win all the time despite what the South African coaching staff would have you believe. We can’t beat the All Blacks because we don’t believe we can get the better of them … and they play smarter.”

While there might be more than a little truth to that this went over the Scot’s head. “Take the first All Black try. Elton Jantjies has a hurried kick charged down by Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty gets over for the first New Zealand try.

“And even if Nick Mallett says it was marginal at best, it’s in the record books. “Then Jantjies’ scrumhalf partner Ross Cronje slings out a wild pass and Rieko Ioane gratefully grabs the intercept and goes over for their second. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes against the All Blacks.” The Incomprehensible One considered this. “Aye,” he said. “Aye.”

But the Arithmetically-challenged One, well into his stride at this stage, was far from finished. “You also can’t just kick up and unders at the New Zealanders either,” he said. “It’s all very well booting the ball 60 or 70m down the park for them to field at their leisure. They simply grab all that ground back from you and they come back at pace.” This seemed to ring a bell for the Incomprehensible One. “Aye,” he nodded. “Aye.”

The sporting oracle launched one further salvo. “And the only lineout we lose on our throw-in results in the try which sealed it.” He broke off at this and simply shook his head. “Aye well,” said the Scot.

“But I ken I’d ruther stick wi tha fitba and tha goff.”