Tag: thugby

For the love of thugby

I inadvertently got caught up in the Sharks victory parade on Wednesday. It was like being on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on the 25th of August, 1944, as French and American troops swept through the Arc de Triomphe.

The liberation of Paris was nothing compared to this. As the bus carrying our conquering heroes drew level, I was so overcome with emotion that I grabbed the nearest woman and kissed her passionately. She pulled away and screamed. I screamed. Up on the bus, the players screamed. The car guards screamed. It was a time for kissing and a time for screaming. You would have been a fool not to do both.

However, I have a confession to make. I am not a huge fan of the sport. Some of you will think I am either a communist or gay. Or even a gay communist, although I imagine this is a fairly small demographic confined to a single neighbourhood in the more tastefully decorated part of Moscow.

The thing is, I wasn’t raised in a rugby house. Back then, the kind of people who played or watched rugby weren’t the kind of people my parents wanted me mixing with. I imagine that’s why my mother sent me for piano lessons. I don’t know what kind of men play the piano or watch other men play, but I sure as hell didn’t want to mix with them either. The lessons ended in tears and I was left wondering if my parents hadn’t perhaps mistaken me for another child.

I watched the Currie Cup final simply because I happened to be in a bar when the game came on. I suppose I should have been tipped off that something was up when the young man behind the bar lashed a rubber shark fin to his head. People do strange things north of the Umgeni and I had no reason to think this wasn’t just another Saturday afternoon on the east coast with a barman tripping gently off his painted face.

I knew trouble was brewing the moment I heard the national anthem. People around me began standing up and singing, not that you could call it singing. You can’t really call it an anthem, either. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika is the only thing left in our pantheon of national symbols still pretending that all is well in this fabulous rainbow nation. It has tried so hard to be all things to all people that if it were a contortionist it would need the Jaws of Life if it hoped to ever walk again.

I never stood up and joined in the singing because once you start with that, you may as well go out and sew the seeds of civil strife on the sidewalks of your suburb. Besides, I didn’t know the words. Nor did I feel confident enough to stand up. Also, I am a journalist, and we don’t stand up for anything but press freedom and an open bar.

This wasn’t my first time watching rugby. Nobody can spend as much time in bars as I do and not see a game of rugby. I have, however, never watched the sport in a stadium environment. I once went to watch a game of cricket at Kingsmead and the unutterable boredom drove me to drink relentlessly beneath a particularly cruel February sun. The day ended badly.

I like to watch rugby primarily for the violence. Many of the players on both sides remind me of people from my past. Hugh Reece-Edwards was in my class at school. Or somewhere in the vicinity of my class. We were on nodding terms until he discovered that I played tennis instead of rugby. But that is not the past I am talking about.

There are rugbyists like Hugh and Patrick Lambie who have English-speaking faces. I am not being faceist, but you have to admit that few people would look at Gurthro Steenkamp and wonder if his parents hailed from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Let me just say that while Lambie was living high on the hog at Michaelhouse, Reece-Edwards and I were being starved and beaten at Northlands Boys High.

The point I am trying to make, if there even is one, is that most rugby players remind me of bad times. I am not talking about Beast Mtawarira, here. Even though I grew up in a suburb where black men could be arrested or shot if they were caught on the streets after dark, the sight of Beast launching himself into yet another of his suicidal battering ram runs doesn’t make me wonder if my plasma TV is on its way to KwaMashu in the back of a taxi.

Most rugby players remind me of the corporals and sergeants who made my life a living hell in the army. They were supposed to teach me to hate communists and terrorists, but they were such utter bastards that I ended up hating them instead.

So when I see a fullback or a prop who looks and talks like the military policemen who routinely arrested me on the highway between Pretoria and Durban, I want him to be taken down and soundly stamped upon.

If there is one thing we all need in this country, it is catharsis. We should take it where we can find it.


Application for the position of Director of Rugby at St John’s College, Johannesburg

Dear Arch-Vicar,

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. Sure, a lot of them have a team or two that plays on the odd weekend, but that is nowhere near what it should be.

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 mind-rotting filth like evolution theory? No wonder our lunatic asylums and prisons are overflowing.

I am very 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 homosexual 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 hellfires of eternal damnation.

Watching the Sharks or the Blue Bulls, even the casual observer can quickly tell which player is the product of a worthy God-fearing school such as yours, and which is the product of an evil system propped up by the antichrist.

When I have the job at St John’s, 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. A big, hairy 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 St John’s. This should work particularly well when we play against the Muslim, Jewish and old Prussian schools.

I will also be changing the outfits. Although you are Anglican – what the infidels call Catholic Lite – and would probably rather stick to tradition, my research has shown that the best way to get people to watch the game is to put the boys in tight shorts and shirts.

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 be none of this drinking the blood and eating the body of Christ 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.

By the way, sources not far removed from a certain archangel by the name of Gabriel have informed me that the Springbok coach is planning on using me as his secret weapon in the match against Scotland this weekend. Please keep this to yourself. It wouldn’t do to have those haggis-snorting brutes get wind of the plan.

I shall let you know when it’s convenient for me to start work.

Yours in Christ and Rugby,

Ben “Tighthead” Trovato