Day 493 – Tour rugby is dead

This, from earlier:

“Tour rugby is done. Broken.
There’s no joy in such a technical game any more. All I see are fans, journalists, players and coaches remarking on poor refereeing decisions and deciding which players they feel will need to be suspended for next week because of what was missed in the previous game. Officials daren’t make a call anymore because then someone will make a two hour video about it and use it against them ahead of the next match.
No-one’s talking about any skill or ability or amazing play – it’s all just technical shit and to see who can get the the other side into more trouble. Constant whinging and whining from all concerned. It’s utterly pathetic.”

It’s really sad that the pandemic has ruined the experience of the Lions’ tour to SA. It’s sadder still that whatever cool or exciting vestiges that might be left to be enjoyed are instead being ruined by everyone with any involvement. It’s just brought out the worst in everyone.

Why bother next time?

At Newlands last night

40,000 turned up last night at a bitterly cold Newlands to watch the Emerging Boks side taken on what was, in truth, a second string British and Irish Lions team. It was cold, stormy, windy, wet, very wet and very cold, but at least there was red wine and brandy on tap.

The Lions’ new defensive formation left gaps out wide

Of course, that was just for those of us in the posh seats. The guys down in the stands didn’t have such luxuries. Although one of them had a vuvuzela. Naughty! And then, with the Lions 10-0 ahead, Earl Rose set up the ball for a kick at goal (or whatever they call it in egg-chasing) and the heavens properly opened.

So much of rain at Newlands

Rose was unperturbed (although I’m sure I heard him murmur “Bugger!!” under his breath), got Luzuko Vulindlu to lie face down in the mud and hold the ball and went about missing the kick anyway.

Half time and I headed off to expunge the brace of first half Peronis. Now, I know that there is a certain urinal etiquette and that one looks ahead or down, never left or right, but it is kind of difficult to obey the unwritten rules of public weeing when you find a six foot Danger Mouse on your right and a slightly shorter Mr Incredible on your left. Seriously. And then I passed a Ninja Turtle on the way out of the loos. Either the British contingent were there in full fancy dress or those beers had been tampered with.

To cut a cold story short, the game finished 13-13 and we headed home, cold, but satisfied. My car said it was 6°C, but I’m sure it was lying. Either that or the minus sign (never tested) doesn’t work.

Bed never seemed so inviting.

Less about rugby…

…more about insults.

Oh dear. Eric Janssen’s Southern View Rugby Blog at The Telegraph has really set the cat amongst the pigeons by “mocking an entire nation because of attendances at rugby”. But I actually found it pretty funny, if a little contrived at times.

Look back to the 2005 tour to New Zealand … grown men were crying in the pub because they did not have tickets to see one game – any game, not even a Test – featuring the men in red.
I’m told South Africans are blaming high ticket prices for the low attendances, but get over it. There are many ways to save a few rands to buy a ticket … don’t throw a whole damn kudu on your bbq next time; drink fewer disgusting brandy and cokes; give the escort agency a miss next week; save legal costs by not shooting someone soon.
Tickets were far from cheap in 2005, but that did not stop people – real rugby fans – from filling the stadiums.

Firstly, he’s right on the attendances. They have been shockingly poor. Embarrassingly so. Either that or the SA rugby fans have been cunningly disguised as plastic seats. And this is weird, because generally, the fair-weather South African rugby fans turn up in big numbers for big rugby games. And surely the much-anticipated British and Irish Lions’ tour is about as big as it gets?
But then, as Janssen states:

…provincial sides stripped of all their current Springboks are making the warm-up games virtually meaningless. It’s a disgrace.

Janssen’s view on SA are stereotypical and exaggerated – attempting to elicit a response, which they have. And he knows which buttons to press because he lived here in SA for a good few years. But I can’t believe that the locals are so up in arms about the whole issue. Take a joke. Because it’s funny.
And if you want to be all serious, then if rugby and pride in your country are so very important to South Africans, why are so many of the stadiums empty on this tour?

There were far fewer complaints when he described the (Gauteng) Lions as “a pathetic bunch of Skoda-driving, sandal-wearing, tree-hugging, lentil-eating, polyester-wearing, greased-hair weasels” and “a feeble collection of player-wannabees” last week.

Mind you, I think he understated that a bit.