Thursday, 21 April 2011
I'm very grateful to my friend Abigail for getting me back into rugby union. It's a tremendous game. One of its finest qualities is the diversity of talent on display.
Marvel at the kicking skill of the fly-half, whose drop goals and penalties win a match for his team single-handedly. Pay tribute to the wily old prop, who out-scrummages a larger, younger, stronger buck through experience and guile. Wince at the crunching tackles of the head-hunting centre. Admire the handling skills of the full-back. Applaud the determined Number 8, as he sneakily gouges the eye of an opponent. Celebrate the breathtaking speed of the wing, as he dances along the line to score a try.
Did one of those not sound right? I do hope so.
Rugby is, to be sure, a man's game (as well as a woman's game and a children's game). You can expect to be flattened, to be bent into all sort of unnatural shapes, and to be run ragged. Sometimes there may even be a bit of slap and tickle (aka fisticuffs). But rugby played within the rules is a magnificent test of character and of capacity for physical hardship.
Gouging, biting and raking your studs down someone's back are the behaviours of a cad.