Rugby messes with my noble intentions


Rugby messes with my noble intentions

Although he finds patriotism risible, he wishes a flying PK on any team who play the Springboks, writes TINUS HORN.


I HAVE previously mentioned that I find patriotism laughable, and I firmly believe it.

I mean, imagine being born on the back seat of a Ford Cortina. It's sheer chance. The doctor's calculations were off by two weeks, that's all.

You could just as well have been born in a storage room at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. I hear there's no space on the maternity floor.

Or on the back of a Toyota bakkie — with a canopy, I hope. Instead, it was a Ford Cortina, and now you're a proud Cortinian, looking down on anyone whose umbilical cord was cut in a Fiat.

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People take pride in the strangest things, I've found. Like pink, brown or black skin. It's a thing, from what I gather. Your dad forgot the condoms on a specific bus, and now you're this one, that one or the other. Congratulations!

This also applies to national borders. Manmade, arbitrary and trivial. Am I supposed to think it's an achievement that I was born at Queen Victoria Hospital in Hillbrow, Transvaal, South Africa?

Well, it's better than the back seat of a Ford Cortina, but still. It's a coincidence in which I played no role.

Now what the hell is going on with me this morning? Here I am waking up with a song in my heart, and that song is Hie’ Kommie Bokke by Leon Schuster.

I can't help it! I mean, rugby. After all, I'm against violence, and, open secret, it's the part of rugby I like the most. Provided, of course, it's administered by the right team.

Schadenfreude is a curse, I used to preach to myself. So why does it bring me so much joy when an All Black limps off the field, preferably bloodied and tormented, or, even better, disappears on a stretcher under a stand?

If it sounds like I'm discriminating against the All Blacks: I'm not. I wish any team playing against the Springboks a flying PK from fate.

Where does this grin come from? Have I really become that person? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. I would have liked to appeal to my better self, but he's been evading me all week.

My commitment to Springbok rugby started on shaky ground way back in 1972 when I attended my first Test match.

The opponents of the Boks that afternoon at Ellis Park were England. And not just any England team. One of the worst in human memory, according to tradition, having lost all four of their matches in the Five Nations series.

Surely a feast for mighty South Africa.

Their tour plan wasn't particularly favourable either. Murderous is a better word: seven matches in 17 days.

Piet Greyling was the Springbok captain. Jan Ellis, Syd Nomis, Joggie Jansen, Gert Muller and John Williams were there too. Legends, each and every one of them.

What can I say, England scored the only try. Springbok fly-half Dawie Snyman kicked so poorly that Greyling later entrusted the kicking duties to the loosehead prop, Sakkie Sauermann. Still missed.

Final score: England 18, South Africa 9.

I remained loyal throughout, even during the sport boycott of the 1980s when rugby, especially Springbok rugby, was seriously uncool.

Tonight, the World Cup kicks off. The Springboks play their first match against Scotland on Sunday. Suddenly, it's more important than usual that they win. At all costs, I'd almost say.

I wish I were more like the Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi. Calm and composed, unwaveringly committed to justice. I would have embarrassed Siya a few times, I guess, given the way I carry on in a pub when the Springboks are playing.

As far as I can tell, he's against foul play, even when the team is trailing. Siya believes 15 players who play by the rules and stay on the field are better than 14 and Owen Farrell, or any other barbarian.

Well, they say you can change if you really want to, I've heard on occasion. And I really want to. I want to be a civilised, decent person.

No, really. A reasonable person, without bias or ill feelings toward a winning team who aren't the Springboks. Someone who can appreciate and admire the merits in any team or player.

I want to be guided by clear thinking rather than emotion. It's just a game, that's how I want to see it.

So, in the interest of balance, I won't even cheer for the Springboks. I'll shout at the referee. “Are you bloody blind AND stupid?" is what I'll shout, if, for example, he shows a red card to a Springbok.

♦ VWB ♦

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