Let’s Pretend

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Rugby players and fans tend to take the piss out of footballers a fair bit – mainly when footballers act like a bunch of girls if anyone brushes past them. That’s a pretty unfair analogy – the girls who play rugby are way tougher! At the World Cup this week you’d be forgiven for thinking that a bunch of Al Qaeda snipers were in the stadium attempting to promote Islam via their new sponsorship from Smith & Wesson. I wouldn’t be surprised if the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company weren’t also in the crowd looking for new talent to audition.

With apologies to mates like Airdy, Bob, Hewie and Tim (Williamson) whose main interest is football, I have to say that some of the ‘acting’ on the pitch is laughable. This poster is pretty accurate  – although when I played I didn’t spend too much time pretending not to be hurt – this was mostly because I was either on a stretcher or in the changing room being stitched up by the ‘cortisone kid’ (gory details are in the post ‘Getting Hurt’ at www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com ).

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I do remember one time when we were playing a Welsh team – as messy an eater as I am, I was aware that the red stuff running down my shirt was not ketchup. These were the days before subs – so your side were in some trouble if you lost a player.  Les, our skipper, came up to me and looked at my battered mouth. I thought he was wiping the wound but it turned out he was shoving some mud on the cut. Anyway, hey presto the blood flow stopped. I played on without protest (probably concussed too or I would certainly have demanded a second opinion). After the game I showered thus removing the ‘poultice’ and instantly looked like an extra from ‘Kill Bill 2’. Anticipating some sympathy I was a trifle surprised to be told not to be a nancy and to get the beers in – happy days. Of course there are times when rugby players are less than perfect – Bryan Habana recently took a ‘dive’ in the Heineken Cup final. He was loudly castigated for this and quickly made a very public apology for his action.

I haven’t seen any footballers doing the same – and for some reason, when interviewed after, their managers never seem to have seen any controversial incidents. I imagine they were probably too busy counting their money to bother watching the game.

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