Thursday, April 5, 2018

Playing the Man, not the Ball

Oz is a nation that loves its sport and sporting heroes, and it has been reeling over the past week due to some appalling lack of sportsmanship.  You can tell that Oz loves sport from all the sport that is shown on TV and all the TV shows that focus on endlessly dissecting games. Usually 'footy'.  Talking, blokey heads galore fill the TV channels levening the boring minutae with wiscracks and occasional offensive slurs which in turn make the newspapers and more TV shows. There is always much talk and the 'play' itself is at the highest level.

Which possibly explains why not all that many actually play. Australians like to win and there's little chance of that against really good players. And who wants to be seen playing with or against weenies? So we have couch-sporties.

But our best and fairest rise to the National Teams, in this sport or that.  Cricket being at the Top of the Tree of fame. They play against the best that furriners, like Britain, can muster. In South Africa, the famed and adored Oz Cricket team - cricket being the epitome of the 'Gentleman's Game' - were caught out. Cheating.They were 'ball tampering'.

Shock. Horror.

A chap was observed with a bit of sandpaper in his hand, with which he had or intended to 'rub' a bit of the surface off the ball. !! 

He furtively shoved it down his underpants when the ref spotted him. One hopes he didn't rub the surface off anything sensitive down there.

To make matters worse, they cried

On TV. 

The nation reeled in disgust. 

Now, playing the ball is what sport should be about. Not abusing the ball. Abuse is reserved for one's opponents. And there is precious little opportunity for that in the quiet of a cricket pitch where even most of the players are far apart and silent.  It is a gentleman's game. Not that such impediments stop Oz players. They 'sledge' at world standard.

Cricket is one of a very few sports where one's focus must be on the ball, not the man. Ad hominum is discouraged in logical discourse and cricket, but is the main objective of more manly sports. 
Anyone seen the ball? What ball?

Anyone who watches American Football, for instance, sees pretty quickly that most of the players are ballophobic. 

The teams attack one another and few have any idea where the ball is or who just might have it. 

Footophobics too, as kicking the ball is so rare as to stop the game altogether and calls out the dancing girls. 

I say 'manly' but that particular national sport requires armoured teams - who also wear long-johns - so barely qualifies. I would put them on horses, m'self. Like the old days.

No. Truewe Manly is Rugger. 

No armour there. Only the man with the ball is to be attacked. But with gusto.

There, 'cheating', if one can call it that and retain one's teeth, is par for the course, and we had one chap in the bar today- one Mr Ruddy Darter -  to take us through a small example of 'game in progress'.

Another infamous game in South Africa   ....
South Africa vs Ireland battle in Pretoria 1998
In June 1998, after tensions simmered during the 1st Test in Bloemfontein where Keith Wood had struck the Springbok captain Gary Teichmann in the jaw. The 2nd Test at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria erupted into an ill tempered violent match with plenty of fighting and incident. 
The sides refused to speak to each other in post match events. 
Now, it has to be said, that no matter what happens on the field, chaps should always remain polite and sociable over beers afterward. Damned unsporting not to talk with a chap, eh, what?  Furriners might be watching.

You can follow the script. It is a short series of encounters.

0:00 - Joost van der Westhuizen kicks Malcolm O'Kelly on the ground. 
0:20 - Victor Costello jumps and headlocks James Dalton, then Costello trips over Dalton, and then Dalton throws punches at Costello.
 0:41 - van der Westhuizen knocks back Keith Wood with an elbow then Gary Teichmann pushes back Wood by his throat.
 0:50 - Mark McCall and Pieter Muller argue off the ball then Muller chucks McCall on the floor. 
0:54 - Kevin Maggs pulls on Teichmann's jersey from behind as he tries to get the ball and then Teichmann reacts angrily. 
1:25 - After Wood runs into Dalton, Trevor Brennan throws a punch at Mark Andrews, then Paddy Johns gets his arms round Rassie Erasmus, and then Krynauw Otto helps Erasmus out and starts a fight with Johns with Erasmus and Justin Fitzpatrick getting some shots in as well. Brennan restarts his battle with Andrews whilst this goes on. 
2:23 - Andrews falls on top of Wood leading with his elbow hurting Wood in the process. 
2:29 - Johns throws over Andrews during a maul, then leans his forearm into Andrews' face and Andrews reacts by putting his hand in Johns' face. 
2:43 - Adrian Garvey and Peter Clohessy get in an argument after a reset scrum. 
2:53 - Teichmann reacts to Johns shouldering into his back at a ruck and they argue again, Clohessy also grapples with André Venter as well. 
3:21 - Andrews flings Justin Bishop out of a pile up well after the whistle has gone. 
3:30 - Clohessy punches Robbie Kempson during a maul. 
3:52 - Commentator Andy Capostagno singles out a late tackle by Rob Henderson on McNeil Hendricks as another piece of foul play off the ball. Note: There was far more incidents in this game not shown on camera.
A quite satisfying stouch m'thinks.

Memorable at least.

And..... No Ball was Damaged in Playing that Game. 

One might say, clean and ethical.

Have an ale and shake hands chaps.


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