Waratah week brings out the irrational hatred in all of us

Clyde Rathbone Columnist

By , Clyde Rathbone is a Roar Expert

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    While it may be true that everyone loves a hero, there is little doubt that villains are usually much more interesting. And every great villain needs a bizarrely ambitious diabolical scheme.

    And who is to say your regular Bond villain type couldn’t also be a dyed-in-the-wool rugby fan? Such a character might decide to unleash his warped genius right here in Canberra.

    Here’s how the plan works: Before the Brumbies and the Waratahs are due to commence battle our villain purchases both teams for an absurdly large figure. The ARU, financially crippled and in desperate need of a cash injection cannot refuse the offer – and so for the first time ever two Super Rugby teams become entirely owned by one person.

    Then, minutes before the teams run out our Bond-villainesque protagonist orders them to swap jerseys. The Brumbies players will now become Waratahs and the ‘Tahs will don the Brumbies’ strip.

    As the players run out to a packed Canberra Stadium (this is my fantasy and the stadium is bursting like it’s 2004 dammit!) there is silence. Inside the minds of committed rugby men a war of cognitive dissonance begins to rage. Entire human systems shut down as rugby men throughout the stadium begin frothing, collapsing and convulsing. All the while our villain’s megalomaniacal laughter echoes through the stadium speakers.

    This is all just a recurring dream I tend to have during ‘Tah week, my Jungian analyst told me it was born from my “dark side”… so I shot him.

    But while I know nothing about analysing dreams I do know a little about Waratah week. And though I’ve been guilty of poking fun at the antics that rugby fanaticism often draws from grown men, if ever there is a time to embrace our inner rugby man and ready for some primal craziness, it’s during ‘Tah week.

    All the ingredients are in order. We’ve got Wallabies squaring up against Wallabies – with the prize fight being Pocock vs Hooper. We’ve got a top of the conference battle and a season-defining match up for grabs, and we’ve got world class coaches with tremendous vested interest in the outcome.

    Add to this combustable cauldron the fact that the Brumbies were soundly beaten by the Waratahs a couple of months ago, and that this is the first time the ‘Tahs will play in Canberra as defending champions. Deepening the drama are the homophobic slurs that blighted the last match. Cue the drums of war, this is going to be epic!

    As one of my former teammates said this week: “I have been surprised at the irrational hatred that has come over me in the last couple of days. Probably the first time I wish I was playing since I have retired.”

    I couldn’t possibly agree more strongly.

    Clyde Rathbone
    Clyde Rathbone

    Former Wallaby & Brumby Clyde Rathbone retired from rugby in 2014. Clyde is a writer, speaker and technology startup founder. A Roar columnist since 2012, you can follow Clyde via his Twitter page.