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The Roar of my favourite crowd

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Roar Guru
13th October, 2018
25

Tonight was one of those nights when I got some nice thinking time in.

My wife was off with one of her girlfriends at some glam night – probably going to be expensive, in the long run. I did hear the name “Paspaley” chucked around – he might have been some prop in a local comp, but I don’t think that was the one she was talking about – something about trying on a pearl necklace worth a squillion.

Talk about champagne taste on a beer budget! Inya dreams, darl!

My beautiful bubba (14 year old princess) is off at school camp.

My rock star son and I were home together, so we emptied the freezer of all the fast food we could find and “cooked up a storm” then he went downstairs to get into his next song, and left me to my own devices.

Those spicy chicken wings from that overseas supermarket chain aren’t bad, either!

Somehow, I logged on to the Roar and did a little bit of reminiscing, going back through some of my old posts and realising that I had never read all the comments to the very end. It was quite enlightening and illuminating, and, actually very humbling, in some cases.

I am not silly enough to think that I am always right, but I seem to have been on the money more than once.

Many of my Roar articles (probably most of them) usually start out as a comment on someone else’s post. Time runs away, you realise you have just about written “War and Peace” and, so, you think, well I might as well turn this into a post of its own.

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I don’t regard myself as a Rugby purist, or a theorist, even though I have been around our beautiful game all of my life. I’ve been a player, a referee (shortest career in the world), a manager, a coach, mentor, barbecuer, dressing room sweeper, raffle ticket seller and general factotum.

I’ve coached schoolboys from the age of 9 upwards. Women – only one year, but an interesting one – Colts and lower grades. A busy professional career that prevented me from going on with it, but hey, happy with that.

So, it is fair to say that I have been around our great game forever, but never at the high levels, probably just like most of us tragics.

Grew up in Sydney, initially playing Rugby League, in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas – absolutely zero exposure to Rugby in that part of the world, and grew up in the golden era of St. George and their 13 consecutive premierships.

I was still a kid when they got beaten in the semi’s – correct me if I’m wrong (or approaching senility) but I think it was the Bulldogs – my young naïve world fell apart.

The Dragons didn’t lose – not supposed to happen, damn – me and my mates used to go along to Jubilee Oval occasionally and watch them train – we often got into the sheds after training and got autographs – Provan, Lumsden, Gasnier, Raper, Smith, Clay – absolute legends. Probably a couple of ‘immortals’ in there.

Then, at the tender age of just under 16 I joined the Navy (yes, you could back then) and went to the idyllic Naval College at Jervis Bay, where I spent five fantastic years training to be a Naval Officer and had a 20 year career – with 15 years in the Reserve, afterwards – the best times of my life.

But I digress – no League, just this strange game called ‘union’.

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Because I had played second row in league, that’s where I started in Rugby – if only I had known, because quickly we realised that I wasn’t tall enough and I became a hooker – what a joy that was. Unfortunately the bloke who I was competing against had played hooker at Scots College or Joey’s, or one of those fancy pants schools and he knew a thing or two about rugby . Bastard!

So second XV it was, but what a time. We didn’t play in any competition, but that meant that we played challenge games home and away and we had some magical bus trips to private schools all over the place.

First, second and third XV on a bus every other weekend, and for us juniors the only time we could call the senior cadets by their first names and get on the sauce with them – some great times, a lot of singing risqué Rugby songs on the bus, and pure mateship in spades.

Navy gave me the opportunity to play Rugby all round the world.

I remember on our training cruise, we were in Suva and we played a game against Marist College. They were all about nine feet tall and bare foot, ground was razor sharp dry mud – they smashed us. Second half, going on forever, approaching dark, said to the ref (their teacher) “when’s full time?”

His reply; “Why? The boys are having fun!” Bottom of a ruck was not a nice place to be.

Another time, on a ship visit to Manila, in the Phillipines, the Nomads Rugby Club (ex-pats – mostly Irish as far as I could work out) hosted us (two EAN ships and teams from the US Marines and the US Air Force stationed there) to a massive day out.

My lasting memory, other than packing down against one of the Stokes brothers, a massive prop who played first grade for Gordon, was this huge African-American guy throwing a lateral gridiron pass all the way from the left wing to the right, finding his winger with absolute precision to put him away under the posts. Touchie was happy with it.

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It was a killer hot day and you were sweating like anything and between the semi and the final, about 45 minutes, when you couldn’t trust the water quality, the only thing to do was down a San Miguel or two.

I think it was about five in the end and can’t remember the final score, but the trip back to the dockyard on the US Marines bus was hilarious!

I totally fell in love with the beautiful game and these days, could not care less about rugby league which, in my opinion, dumbed itself down way too much over the years. Great athletes, but the only contest seems to be crashing into each other, and insulting us with their ridiculous scrums.

So, a few years ago, I came across this great site, The Roar – you get this brilliant opportunity to put yourself out there and have a say.

There are things I love about it and things, I don’t love so much.

The Pros – fantastic banter, lots of great ideas, thoughts from some very thoughtful people.

The Cons – sometimes the meaning and intent of your post gets lost in the banter, where personal comments are made, where people go off the track and divert the course of the original post (that is the most frustrating thing) where silly tribal comments sometimes get in the way of an informed discussion. But, we welcome all comers and rugby is, after all, a broad church.

But here is the interesting thing.

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When I went back to my own posts, tonight, I realised that some of those silly comments had stopped me reading all the way to the end comments, and I realised how many complementary comments I had missed from a lot of people who are very thoughtful and invested in this wonderful sport that we know as rugby. Sometimes I get busy and don’t always follow my own posts to the end.

So, to all of you guys and particularly the ones like Sheek and Ricketty Knees and Jeznez who have been around since the early days – we’ll get that beer in, one day.

To us Brumbies tragics (Fionn et al) we have fought off the Barbarians at the gates who kept wanting to see off the magic Brumbies to Melbourne (I think they are called the cockroaches from NSW), or at least thought we did.

Moved to Canberra in ’96 – the Brumbies first year and it really opened my eyes that the strongholds of Sydney and Brisbane really don’t have a mortgage on our wonderful game. I met the people from the Brumbies and witnessed almost at first hand the influence of the likes of Mark Sinderberry and Phil Thompson as administrators and Rod MacQueen and Eddie Jones and later, Jake White, and Laurie Fisher, Peter Ryan and Steve Larkham.

Great times and they will come again.

Tremendous pride in the fact that ACT turned local talent into stars such as George Gregan, Larkham, Joe Roff, Matt Giteau, and lately great young guys coming through like Joe Powell and Tom Cusack, and many other unsung heroes.

Great that they opened their arms to other great players like Ben Darwin, Troy Jaques, Graeme Bond, Adam Ashley-Cooper, blokes from my original club, Norths in Sydney – great times.

The Roar is my ‘go to’ rugby site and I open it every morning even before I open my inbox.

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But I would encourage all of us – have a go, write something, even if you have never written before – if it’s crap they won’t publish it – simple!

Don’t make it about yourself – don’t be overly tribal – don’t be overly critical of each other’s’ point of view.

Do get stuck into the ‘powers that be’ – because they deserve it – we should always see ourselves as the keepers of the flame and keep the bastards honest. Our game deserves it.

We should keep coming up with ideas as to how our game can be structured and go forward because our administrators don’t always get it, and someone needs to present alternatives.

You notice that there is rarely an open discussion with the folks in positions of power, but occasionally I detect a comment here and there which is obviously from someone of power, being anonymous, but wanting to make a comment.

I’m sure that Spiro or Lordy or Brett McKay might have some interesting anecdotes in that regard.

Anyway, lest you think these are just the ramblings of a silly old tragic (they probably are) but they are also designed to say a huge thanks to the Zavos crew who gave us the wherewithal to become armchair experts, but also to encourage all of us to write, write and then write some more and instead of the occasional comment, turn it into a full-blown article.

Our lovely game needs all the help it can get at the moment. Not to mention that we are heading into the silly season. Too much rugby is never enough, and summer is the pits.

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The end of season tour awaits, thank goodness, otherwise it’s the cricket – yawn!

Roar on, Roarers!