I miss all the stupid parts. I miss the scrum commands. I miss Owen Farrell’s gunslinger grimace.
I miss Michael Hooper’s tousled hair. I miss Naas Botha’s tangled analysis. I miss Dan Biggar’s routine. By god, I miss the routine.
I miss the routine of a rugby weekend. The teamsheet. The tipping. The banter. The Roar’s rugby community.
At club, the provision of victuals and bottles of beer. The bad coaching tips I provided to fix an ill lineout. On television, the surly derbies from Ulster, Toulouse, Christchurch, Canberra, and Northampton. Live, the tramp from the station past the stinky brewery to the old creaking stadium; she, who never will receive her proper goodbye.
I miss the absurdities. How out-of-puff Frans Malherbe looks from the second minute, yet there he was in Yokohama, the top tighthead in a scrum which won it all. The rotundity of Jamie George, even with a coach who bleeps the bleep out of bleep tests. The sheer size of Will Skelton and Cheslin Kolbe, doing their thing.
I miss the reset. There. I said it. The drama of trying to picture what picture the referee is forming in his reptilian reffing brain, with two minutes on the clock and one last hurrah.
I miss the scuffed kick off the side of Kurtley Beale’s boot. I miss the impossibly bad hair of Alun Wyn Jones, and the privacy of his parts.
I miss the analysis of Australian TV pundits, hitting my brain in a rat-a-tat-tat rhythm of inanity and trying to league-it-a-mise it as I see it a different way.
I miss the linebreak squandered, the forward pass debate which carries on like a nature-versus-nurture and genetics versus environment and Piru versus Gloria loop; I miss PeterK’s scalpel correcting my imprecision, and trying to remember if TWAS is the same or opposite to Ken Catchpole and his other leg.
I miss Biltongbek being Biltongbek.
I miss Spiro losing the plot, but somehow catching it on the rebound.
I miss the bad exit; the one where Faf de Klerk makes Steven Kitshoff dive one meter outside our own 22, to make the wee, reedlike French referee announce “zit zis oat of ze twenty-two,” so that only a box will do, and predicted and silly.
I miss the shocking fend, the yapping of the Irish, the ridiculous intercept, the wobbly throw to the back, and the Etzebeth smile which is not a smile.
I miss the strangeness of Brodie Retallick’s face and grace. I miss the clipped vernacular of the Kiwi commentators. I miss the meat pies after the game. I miss the sodden scent of mudding lads snarling.
I miss the silence around the kick broken by the gasp of the result. I miss the variegated sounds of the halftime and fulltime hooters.
I miss the harshness of the unfair or fair whistle delineating our odd laws’ seamless web from the nineteenth century to now.
I miss the transformation of our uniforms from pristine promise to red raged raggedness.
I miss Brett McKay‘s explanations for why he picked the wrong team. I miss his mid-match tweets which always cut to the right theme.
I miss the pop pass which pops wrong, the hospital pass, the silly maniacal offload, the de-spiraled spiral, the prop pretending to be a nine.
I miss how hard some players work for no reward and how easy it seems for others. I miss the mismatch. I miss the matches. I miss it all.