Infernal Opinions – mutterings of an Ikeys relic – What William Webb Ellis would think of the game today

Rugby is a funny old game. When William Webb Ellis picked up the round ball and scampered off into the pages of history, he had no idea of the shock waves he would create all over the world.

The round ball gave way to a drunken pear shaped object which taunts and tantalizers players and spectators alike. The modern game is regulated by laws, not rules, which are endlessly tweaked and twiddled by the old codgers in charge of the game, to produce ever more confusing twaddle.

The major trigger points of the game which galvanize thirty players into frenetic action, are the kick off, the scrum and the lineout .The object of the game is for the fifteen players in possession of the ball to retain that possession by any means condoned by the myriad of ‘laws’, and to deposit the ball in a designated area at the far end of the field, occupied by their enemy for the duration of the game.

Sounds simple enough; the rub is that the opposition will resort to extreme physical violence and trickery to claim their right to the ball. For about ninety minutes, thirty men do their utmost to be the victors and not the vanquished.

What do hundreds of thousands of players, and millions of spectators, find so captivating about a legalized form of mayhem? Eloquent tributes and condemnations of the game of rugby abound, but perhaps the primaeval urge of man to thump his fellow man, to run around like a maniac on a piece of rough ground, scrapping over a stuffed pig’s head, was the natural forerunner to the modern game. In any event, it is a lot more fun than murdering each other on a battlefield.

The intense satisfaction derived from smashing an opponent into the turf, ripping the coveted ball away from him, or dancing catlike around or past him, or soaring in the air to catch the elusive ball; or feeling the opposition scrum scatter like chaff in the wind, from the concerted shove of your pack of forwards, cannot be overemphasized. It is heady stuff, and millions of addicts will confirm that it is an opiate worth a bit of pain and loss of blood.

In two weeks time, the Ikey Tigers take on their arch enemy; that strange tribe from Stellenbosch. It is time to prove that one Tiger in all his glory, sleek, magnificently muscled, the ultimate hunter, is worth at least two grumpy old bears from the Pappegaaiberg. Tear them apart Tigers! Be the victor, not the vanquished.

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