The following email was forwarded by Susan Crangle '01, alum extraordinare
Attention all rugby players. This is from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. (gotta love the last paragraph)
By Peter FitzSimons
Which brings us to the fact that the rugby season is just about fully upon us, and already your top lip is starting to curl into its customary sneer at the prospect. Come, come, come, we're all men here, you know it is!
Bob Dwyer once famously said, "I see [rugby] as an extension of the arts... the spirit of the William Tell Overture in the power of the scrum, the beauty of a Rodin sculpture in the sweeping movement of a backline." But you've never seen it like that, have you?
You just see a bunch of Neanderthals running into each other at pace and bleeding upon each other for reasons best known to themselves, am I right? Instead of the William Tell Overture you are more reminded of the fall of Saigon.
This kind of view was most eloquently expressed in these very pages many moons ago by the redoubtable Padraic P. McGuinness. You tell 'em, Mr Paddy...
"rugby players are like billygoats, who when in rut butt each other stupid until the thickest-skulled gets the females.
"It is violent and macho - the physical contact, the ritualised battle, the homosexual intimacy of the locker room, the boys-together boozing and whoring which follow it, are all very basic instincts in the human male." (I might say in passing that this came as a great relief to me at the time, as I had previously thought I was being most unnatural when I did all that stuff.)
This year, however, just for a change, instead of the mere sneer, why not try to understand the basic impulse that propels these blokes - and lately a whole wave of like-minded women - to do this?
You've come to the right place!
The nearest I get to explaining the joys of rugby to those who simply can't fathom it is talk of the time I was driving in traffic behind a battered old ute, in the back of which was this equally battered old mongrel bloodhound. Now, instead of doing the sensible thing, which was to take shelter behind the cab, out of the wind and the rain and the sleet and the cold, this dog jammed its big, ugly mutt head right into the oncoming rush of wind. For mile after mile, its head stayed out there smashed on one side by a furiously flapping ear and the other by its jackhammering tongue.
Clearly, it was one of the stupidest things a dog ever did, but on the other hand it was clearly having one of the best times a dawg ever had.
And for me, driving behind ... I felt an instant sense of brotherhood with that dog. I had no doubt that if that dog could have been a human it would have been a footballer player.
(These days, if ever I see one of those prissy, prancing, pompous little poodles bouncing along on a leash behind its mistress, I always think, "there goes ... a golfer".)
So give the rugby player a break, OK? Of course it doesn't make sense in conventional, logical, rational terms to do what they do. But they are not playing it on those terms. They are essentially following a primal urge which is simply stronger than they are.
And don't kid yourself that it is only thugs and layabouts who play rugby. In a column a few years ago for the Herald sports section, I composed an imaginary pack of rugby forwards made of people who, though they had made their fame in other fields, had played rugby in their past. I won't here give detail, but sufficeth to say that the front row was made up of Meatloaf, Mussolini and Idi Amin. (I know, I know, I haven't necessarily done my argument a lot of good with the citation of those names.) In the second row stood Frankenstein's monster (aka Boris Karloff) and Kerry Packer, who played for the Geelong Grammar First XV. And in the back row stood none other than Che Guevara, Pope John Paul II (who played at university in Cracow) and Bill Clinton (who, on a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in the late '60s, absolutely adored playing rugby).
Now, admittedly I have no idea what kind of a rugby player Bill Clinton would make these days, but by hell he'd be a good man to go on a rugby tour with! Thank you! Thank you all! Good nigghhhht...
Peter FitzSimons used to play rugby.