It’s not just the Six Nations, I hate rugby in general as well, though the prevalence of the Six Nations on television sets does tend to ram it home.
Why? Because it reminds me of my schooldays and let’s get this out of the way here and now. I went to public school. So yes, that’s right, I kill grouses with the shin bones of dead servants and Princes William and Harry come to my birthday parties where they down shots of liquid gold, surrounded by posh young totty pulsating at the crotch. I am a right knob.
(That’s not the only reason. Rugby players tend – ie not all of them, but many – to drink too much then expose their genitals to other men and drink buckets of sick.)
I played rugby union for the school team throughout my seven years, because I was such a terrified swot that I tried too hard and people mistook this for talent. Worse, I was a small child who developed pubic hair later than most other boys. We played in all weathers, even when there was snow on the ground. Some bright spark advised that you could warm your hands by putting them inside your shorts, as the crotch region retains some heat. Scant consolation.
I went to public school. So yes, that’s right, I kill grouses with the shin bones of dead servants and Princes William and Harry come to my birthday parties where they down shots of liquid gold.
Deep Heat was the embrocation of choice, massaged into the thighs for warmth. The changing room reeked of it, and I quickly grew to associate its cloying, acrid stench with my own trepidation. Saturdays were match days. We’d run out on to the pitch, metal studs rapping on concrete like small, demented drummers. Schoolmates, forced to watch while normal children were back home smoking and being threatening, would line the field, sulking.
Our XV would eye up their XV. I wasn't looking for possible strengths and weaknesses, I was assessing my chances of survival. Some of those kids were enormous. Genetic mutations. Even in the under-13s a couple of the fuckers had beards. Everyone at the start of those matches – besides me – was fired up. They wanted to assert their machismo, smash into splinters the first poor bugger with his hands on the ball. Inevitably that poor bugger was me, and my gonads developed a habit of retracting into my body the moment a whistle blew. (Handy, until you attend a Brazilian-style carnival.)
For 80 minutes, I’d try to avoid becoming a plaything for institutionalised bullying. I’d be the last out of rucks, the slowest in the side, and my bootlaces would need tying. The smell, the oomska, the violence, the revolting manliness of it all. I didn’t care whether we scored or won, I just wanted to get off that sordid field and go home. So imagine my frustration when I got home and there was rugby on the telly. That’s how I still feel, decades later. I fucking loathe rugby and all the poshness and bravado that attend it. It’s ingrained in me. Twickers.
Interestingly, Johnny Wilkinson attended the same school, yet our views on the sport are clearly poles apart.
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