So this is the game they play in heaven is it? In that case the concept of heaven must have been drawn up from plans taken from Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’.
The glimpses of this special heaven have been on show for the last month or so – though it seems longer – with the British Lions tour of Australia. This rugby team representing the cream of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales came to us via a piss poor match against a sad, disheveled bunch of Barbarians (Baa Baas in rugby speak) who looked medicated in Honkers. This match was staged before a braying bunch of Hooray Henrys and pissed expats at the request basically of HSBC who paid a shit-load of money to have the boys stop-off on their way to the colony. You will not see a bogan beer sponsor anywhere. Rugby union sponsor land is the land of the wealth generators who hope to trap the high net-worth individuals who crave so dearly their dose of this incredibly dull game.
There is a sense in every aspect of rugby to suggest that this is a game for those who have attended St Bede’s of the Bleeding Buttocks or other such clannish private sector schools that nourish the inner child’s desire to be a merchant banker. The old English saying, “Football is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians, and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen” tends to suggest the sense of entitlement that drips from the game’s followers. Say that the sport is an elitist light for attracting like-minded must-have moths brings scorn from the rugger-buggers who cite the number of Polynesian players now playing the sport as evidence that this is the game of the people. The reality is somewhat different.
What has been overlooked is that this Lions tour has simply highlighted the major emerging weakness of rugby union. It is fundamentally a highly technical game and it is getting worse. The stubborn refusal of the IRB to actually have rules that make sense and that can be consistently interpreted by referees is astonishing. In the early 1800s, when William Webb Ellis attended the Rugby School, the alleged starting ground of the game, there were no formal rules. Little has changed. As Rob Gibson wrote in the SMH Rugby Heaven, “Casual viewers of last Saturday’s Test will have been baffled, as so many have over the years, at the constant packing and repacking of scrums by South African referee Craig Joubert, and his random allocation of blame for its repeated collapses and other misadventures.”
Of course the ‘purists’ will bang-on about the phases, the rolling mauls and other subtleties of the game as they clutch their moist groins bemoaning that we mere mortals cannot see the real game. But I say bull fuck to you boyo – I see the game that could replace Mogadon. You and your Gucci gang are like P76s – you are disappearing from the earth because you no longer have the capacity to be relevant in a time when fast, open, skillful play is what people want.
If you look at the statistics from the Second Kickathon played in Melbourne last Saturday night as stated in greenandgoldrugby.com you will find sobering stats.
It tells the true story of heaven doesn’t it? Heaven is a place where you really cannot run free unless you have had a grounding in less controlled sports. Heaven is a place of constant whistle blowing – arh the bells the bells. When you compare the 1328 metres made on average by a rugby league team in the NRL in 80 minutes you start to wonder whether union will end up a curio enjoyed by a smitten few over a tincture of sherry.
But still the smugness of the Barnacle Bill Pulver who now heads the game is somewhat overwhelming. Pulver’s comments about NRL/AFL convert Israel Folau were like a cheap perfume that strangles reason after a brace of golden throat charmers. Pulver was quoted in the press as saying that Folau would become a very good player once he understood the “nuances” of the game. What “nuances” do you speak of Barnacle? Catching the ball cleanly? Scoring tries? Running the ball? Taking on the man and beating them? All the things that most rugby players have forgotten about.
This is the sort of talk you would expect from the head knob of a game played in heaven as he looks down on the unwashed. It is also the attitude that will continue to see the game serve the elite few and bore the majority of us into an atheist’s stupor.