A time to
NOW seems an opportune time to discuss Theresa May's debut as a go-go dancer, the way she took to the podium at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, stepping it out in slacks to rah-rah music; Britain's impending exit from the EU to re-establish the Empire on the high seas; tensions with Russia as Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish the Tsarist empire; the publishing boom in America as various authors describe the White House knockabout show or how they slept with the president; the unfolding drama of teenage drinking and groping in America; and – violins – how Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un fell in love.
Oh, all right. We'll talk about rugby if you insist.
Tomorrow will be a humdinger, momentous. For the All Blacks, winning the Championship will count as nothing if the Boks dish it to them twice in a row. It's the kind of thing that shakes New Zealand, the government can fall.
For ourselves it could mean we're on the Hallelujah Trail, heading for the World Cup next year. Or it could mean relapse into mediocrity. We're on the cusp.
Anything can happen at Loftus tomorrow. On paper it should be a shoo-in for the All Blacks. But the same was true of Wellington.
Yet we can't expect to again simply tackle them out of it. We need to do some running ball in hand, not kick away possession. We can't expect them to again forget there's such a thing as a drop goal when they're camping under our posts. We can't expect Beauden Barrett to again have his boots on the wrong foot.
On paper, it should be the All Blacks. But the Test is not played on paper, it's played for 80 minutes on the turf of Loftus Versfeld where the fortunes of rugby correspond with the fortunes of war; where men playing with commitment and camaraderie can achieve what seems impossible.
As that great rugby coach William Shakespeare put it in his famous pep talk before the Test against France at Agincourt:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …;
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean ….
'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!
A GROUP of fellows are in the changeroom at the golf club. A mobile phone sitting on a bench suddenly rings. One of the men picks it up.
"Hi darling, I'm at the shops. There's a lovely top for R300. Can I have it?"
"There's also a lovely coat for R800. Can I have that too?"
Her luck is in. She goes for the big one.
"In the car showroom next door there's a beautiful little Mini. How about if I trade in the Zgolf. There'll be a balance of a few grand …"
"Put it on the card."
He rings off and holds up the mobile.
"Anyone know whose phone this is?"
'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.