Rugby — what’s that?

2011-09-22 00:00

I WAS told before I moved south of the Mooi River that people in KwaZulu-Natal have an unhealthy attachment to sport.

Perhaps I should be more specific — just rugby. I know — I have just committed blasphemy. Forgive me for I have sinned.

Rugby is to me like a bicycle to a fish. Largely unnecessary. Since childhood I have had an aversion to most sport. I have spent collective years hiding in school gymnasiums in fear of actually catching any sport bug. After various attempts to try sports I just don’t get it.

I have never yet had the thrill of an endorphin rush. Cramps, stiffness and sprains, yes, actual enjoyment — never. I think the “no pain, no gain” mantra was invented by masochists who hadn’t discovered chocolate. But rugby takes this to a whole new level. Men do battle on a field with the intention to inflict bodily harm.

We are encouraged to watch and even cheer them on. Now that it is the Rugby World Cup, millions of kilometres away on the other side of the world, South Africans are obsessed.

Locally, mention the word “shark” and they whip out something black and white, and start singing an anthem. I was referring to the big grey fish that swims in the sea with lots of teeth. For rugby addicts, a shark attack means a rough tackle by one of their boys.

It’s not just something that affects the male species either. Shock, horror, there are actual women in possession of the XX chromosomes who actually like rugby. I’ve not yet been able to prove my theory that they have been victims of sophisticated brainwashing techniques.

But these poor women have been led to believe that this ritual of ball throwing on a massive field with much grunting, sweat and heaving is actually entertainment. While the men scream and shout, the women are expected to provide an array of snacks, I see them multitask effortlessly while watching the game with one eye on the box.

Perhaps they were trying to see the players changing their shorts at half-time, admittedly there are one or two hotties in the team. But to watch 90 minutes of mind-numbing sport for a five-second chance of seeing a grown man in his undies does seem a bit unrealistic.

The headlines scream for the coach to be fired — I say fire the whole squad and let sanity reign once again. I am not in favour of the whole country wearing those ugly green-and-gold nylon shirts any longer than they have to. Fridays is bad enough. That is not national pride. It’s insanity.

I made the mistake of going to a local pub one evening with a friend when a game was on. We could not hear ourselves think. The men screamed when they scored, swore when the other team scored, in-between they shouted insults and advice at the team, via the television. I wanted to point out that the television was a transmitter not a receiver. But I am sure they thought “Div” heard every word.

I am not anti-fun. Last year I did try to get into the soccer spirit. I bought some paraphernalia, even had a flag on my car. But it was a temporary affliction.

My daughter, who sadly takes after me in the athletics stakes, came home the other day, a huge smile across her face.

“Mom, the coach has asked me to join the team.” I scanned my mind for a suitable answer. I drew a blank. Perhaps they had created a dominoes team.

“They need girls to play rugby,” she said smiling. I wondered if they had a clue. My daughter hasn’t an aggressive bone in her body.

If the ball heads her way followed by 10 thundering girls in pigtails, she will probably flee in the opposite direction.

If I am forced to watch my offspring play the dreaded game I may be bitten by the bug but I have no doubt that if anyone high tackles my little sweetheart I will swear at them. If the coach dares to put her on the bench he will be unpopular. And, yes, if necessary I’ll wear one of those hideous rugby shirts in solidarity. Bliksem hulle! I mean play nicely darling.

TRISH BEAVER

‘These poor women have been led to believe that this ritual of ball throwing on a massive field with much grunting, sweat and heaving is actually entertainment.’

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