Tuesday, 21 May 2013
The Mav does Rugger Buggery
As a favour of sorts to Steve from Broady, who's been to several footy matches with me, even though he doesn't like the game - I think he mostly gets a kick out of watching me being sullen in a different context - I decided that it was time to make my debut at a rugby union match last Friday.
I bought my ticket from a scalper outside the gate. OK, he was probably just some guy with spare tickets, and honestly, I don't even know if I got a good deal or not, but man, did I feel like a badass by not buying a ticket at the gate.
Now I know the basic rules, some of the history, but otherwise don't give a toss about the game. I knew it was a Rebels' match I was going to, but I had no idea who their opponents were. Turned it was the Stormers from South Africa. I was hoping that it would have been one of the Kiwi teams, as that would have increased the Maori and Islander count a bit, but there were a few Saffas in the crowd at our end, including one who waved his flag around like nobody's business.
Otherwise, it was classic case of 'who are these people and why are they here?' Part of that answer was that a lot of them in our vicinity seemed to be from private schools. Marcellin was one of them (I have no idea who they are; their website seems to indicate they have a rugby program, but no soccer, even though I've read elsewhere that they have or had a soccer program). I could tell they were from Marcellin because it was written on their hoodies.
There were some others behind us in maroon tracksuits with blue and yellow trim, couldn't see what school they were from. And yes, there were blazers, and talk of whether one had ever been to Xavier or not. The rest of the crowd seemed to made up of a certain upper middle class type of person, in that they wore tasteful scarves, cheered and occasionally jeered at the appropriate moments and mostly kept to themselves. Pretty boring.
Every time there was a break in play, there was music. Not just for injuries, not just after tries, but even every time the ball went out of play. And I thought the AFL was bad in this department. There was scarcely a free moment to think, and considering the copious amount of time lost due to as far as I could tell, not much at all, it was bloody irritating. The Mexican style trumpet at the start of each also grated.
Though this was of course not a Wallabies game, it has always confused me as to why the upper classes, those descendants of the squattocracy, who watch this sport at a national level, have somehow chosen Waltzing Matilda as their song. It makes no sense. It's an anti-authoritarian song you goons. Anyway, the game of the upper class calling their Melbourne franchise the Rebels is also a bit of a laugh - more so when you see people displaying the Eureka flag as well. Jas H. Duke might have had something to say about that. Or perhaps not.
I used to think, perhaps in my own Victorian way, that the extra kicking in rugby union made the game more watchable than its league cousin. Seeing it in person made me realise how wrong I was. While I still think there's a place for kicking in rugby league - if they bring back unlimited tackles - the kicking in this match was terrible. More often than not, when the Rebels were resorting to kicking it was also unnecessary.
And the knock ons! So many knock ons! I suppose it was a combination of the quick play - somehow I had this idea that rugby union wasn't quite as fast as that - and the relative crappiness of the two teams on show. But back to the fast play for a moment. Rugby union on a pristine surface didn't make sense to me - shouldn't these matches be played on a mud pile? But there wasn't much time to ponder that because of the classic 'What was that for? Oh, you've got it on the screen' moments.
In soccer there seems to be a limited number of infractions, and thus you can pretty quickly get on with the game while abusing the referee for giving the opposite decision of what he should have awarded. In the footy, the umpires make it up as they go along, but at least provide clear signals most of the time as to what made up decision they actually decided on, and then we have the pantomime of everyone craning their necks towards the scoreboard for the replay to justify to ourselves that they got it wrong.
In rugby, it goes like this. Everyone gets in a big pile. At random moments during these piles - and not at every pile - the official in charge declares that some sort of infringement has happened. And apparently we look to the screen not for a replay, but for a text message telling us what it was for. Good luck to people like for whom every one of these piles looks exactly alike.
It may be due to my own petty Victorianism, but I could not this question out of my head. Why is this team in existence? Whose needs are they serving? Yes, I understand that as a city with a certain amount of people in it that we 'need' to have one of everything when it comes to sports franchises, but someone should have drawn the line here.
Finally, two things stood out above all else. Firstly, South needs to play at this stadium. Hurry up and make the grand final you clowns. And secondly, tries mean nothing to me. Seriously.
Posted by Ian Syson at 16:58