Lapland set to be the hottest exporter of rugby talent in 2018

Kia Kaha Roar Guru

By Kia Kaha, Kia Kaha is a Roar Guru

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    In its bid for the Rugby World Cup in 2023, France claimed it could prevent the demise of international rugby by using the tournament as a powerful bargaining tool with the moneyed-up Top 14 clubs.

    If they had claimed that giving the hosting rights to France could bring about peace in the Middle East and North Korea, it would have sounded just as plausible.

    The rugby world knows the financial power base is in England and France and the rest of the rugby world is either clinging on for dear life or haemorrhaging too fast to hold out hope for much longer.

    That isn’t going to change any time soon and giving the hosting rights to France certainly isn’t going to decelerate that process. It’s like Japan giving Donald Trump a Toyota Prius for Christmas in the hope that the United States will return to the Paris Climate Deal.

    Santa Claus, a huge rugby fan, has been all too aware that the rugby world is like an iceberg breaking up in rapidly warming seas. This Christmas he has recognised the need to bring something drastically new to the game to turn this alarming situation around to fill those stadiums around the world once again in all formats of the game and fill those coffers up.

    There didn’t seem much cause for optimism on his part at the start of the year. January proved to be an even more melancholic month than usual. The Elves, all of whom are huge football fans, were bouncing around mad with excitement that they were one year closer to the World Cup in Russia. The World Cup had never been so close to home and they had been hoarding all their vacation time for that tournament.

    They used the down-time in January to book flights and hotels and calculate pool odds for their sweepstakes competition. They had always been irrepressibly effervescent balls of energy but they had never been merrier.

    And Santa had never been grumpier. He desperately wanted to reject all of their leave applications for 2018 but he knew their union was too strong to take on all by himself and nobody else could make the Christmas presents if they went on strike.

    He quickly fell into a deep depression. Being constantly jolly for a month on end takes it out of you at the best of times. But he was filled with a sense of dread for his beloved game. Even locked away in the far reaches of his expansive home, Santa could still make out the Elves’ high-pitched squeals of delight. Their indomitable happiness pierced his ever increasingly gloomier rugby soul.

    February arrived and Santa refused to come out of his hiding place. Mrs Claus tried to coax him out with his favourite dishes but to no avail. March came and not even England missing out on the Grand Slam and a record run of matches for a top-tier team could lift his spirits or indeed whet his appetite. His weight plummeted and his mood darkened along with it.

    Then after one sleepless night it happened. Santa put on the rugby channel and he instantly became besotted with Damian McKenzie. The 5’8 blonde pocket rocket was barely eighty kilos dripping wet but he had blistering speed and deft handling that brought tears of joy from Santa.

    Finally, like poison being drawn from a wound, he was released of all the negative energy that had weighed him down all year. He was transfixed. He started compiling Damian McKenzie videos on Youtube. He pored over game-highlight reels and marvelled at his match statistics.

    The inane, squawky chatter from the Elves was muffled out by the high-octane play of this exciting diminutive twinkletoes.

    Then a dastardly plan suddenly came to Santa while watching a close-up of Damian McKenzie’s face in the pre-match commentary on the Chiefs’ line-up. His mouth curled up into a cruel smile.

    Those little trophy-handle ears. That pixie face. He wasn’t a fullback or a fly-half. He was a fly-elf. Santa grabbed his rugby almanacks off the bookshelf and flicked frantically through the pages.

    Gio Aplon, Michael Hooper, Shane Williams, Peter Stringer, Fumiaki Takana, Antoine Dupont, Alexander Yanyushkin, Kwagga Smith, Mitchell Hunt. They all had something in common with Damian McKenzie: small in stature with ironically huge followings.

    That was it. He knew what he had to do. He had to trick his elves into making real-life toy rugby players. He started forging Christmas wish lists and subliminally distracted the Elves by replaying the Greece victory in the UEFA Euro 2004.

    For he knew the David and Goliath battles resonate most with fans whatever the sport. Rugby was no different. That Joost van der Westhuizen tackle on Jonah Lomu in the 1995 World Cup, Japan defeating South Africa in the 2015 World Cup, the mythical Gareth Edwards Barbarians try against the Rugby World Cup.

    Jonah Lomu runs the ball

    (AAP photo/Dean Lewins).

    A valiant, pocket-sized hero pulling off an unlikely victory in the face of seemingly unsurmountable odds is a surefire way to win the hearts and minds of rugby fans across the globe.

    The little people of rugby do this every time they touch the ball. One false move and they risk being snapped back permanently into the same position they held in their respective mother’s womb.

    They are both the torchbearers of hope for the rugby public and symbols of our own struggles with our foibles. For their bravery in the face of towering adversity gently shames our inability to overcome our shortcomings and wills us on to greater heights.

    The risk is very much worth the reward when it comes to small rugby players. Like Damian McKenzie, they are bound to get things wrong at times but in a way we are far more willing to forgive them for their rugby discretions as we are all too aware of our own failings.

    But when they get it right, there can be no greater inspiring sight. Think of that David Havili hand-off to Damian McKenzie against South Africa. He pinned back those little ears and he crabbed right to burst through that gap to score.

    The cut-out pass intercepted by Folau was forgiven along with our most recent mistakes. We stood tall with the man as he dotted the ball down and looked down on our past grievances.

    Santa knows this type of rugby player captures the imagination like no other. Expect to see a lot more in 2018. He can’t make enough of them before that Christmas Eve deadline.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 4:53am
      Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 4:53am | ! Report

      TOP quality work, mate.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:29am
        Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Thanks, Harry.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 7:09am
      bluffboy said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Merry Christmas KK
      NIce read for this time of year.
      The Cheifs may have him, but he will always be a good Bluff boy.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:31am
        Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        The proximity to Antarctica probably cemented the affinity Santa had for him, BB.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 7:17am
      Highlander said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Nice stuff KK

      Compliments of the season
      DMac can certainly do things no one else can, but is he an AB fullback, jury still out for me.

      Santa was an underrated loosehead in the northern Finland league.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:35am
        Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Festive greetings to you, Highlander.

        Santa actually started off at halfback and modeled his play on Farr Jones. Hence the name little Saint Nick.

    • Columnist

      December 21st 2017 @ 7:44am
      Geoff Parkes said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Excellent KK. Anything to do with Damien McKenzie is guaranteed to hook me in, every time!

      Best wishes for Xmas and 2018!

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:36am
        Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        Thanks, Geoff. All the best with your book and best wishes for 2018.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 8:13am
      concerned supporter said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Memo, Melbourne Storm,
      Damien McKenzie would be a sensation at half back in the NRL.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:37am
        Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        He’d definitely be entertaining. But rugby union needs all the little men.

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 9:19am
      Machooka said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      Stonking read Kia Kaha!

      Fabulous (especially at this time of the year) to see Santa worked into a rugby article.


      Small players
      Smiling players
      Sensational players
      Small, smiling, sensational, elf like players!

      Can’t wait to get me hands on one of them bobbleheads… an excellent gift for all seasons 🙂

      Feliz Navidad amigo… to you and yours.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:38am
        Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        Cheers, Chook.

        Felices fiestas for you and the family.

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