really big 'un
for the Boks
WHO ever thought these autumn internationals in the northern hemisphere are a kind of end of season doddle? They're tough and full of drama. (Ask the All Blacks). The Boks' heartbreaker against England. That incredibly lucky win against France, way into injury time. That close one against Scotland.
And tomorrow evening it's Wales in the Principality Stadium – 15 Welshmen on the field, 80 000 or so in the stands giving tongue in their inimitable lilting way. And the stats are hardly encouraging for us – it's three in a row for Wales against the Boks. They're hyped up to make it four. They've won their last eight Tests – Tonga, Australia, Scotland, Argentina (twice), the Boks, France and Italy.
Yes, these autumn internationals are tough. The approaching World Cup gives them an added edge – the thing is now wide open, which is surely good for rugby – but there's an underlying story as well.
Northern hemisphere rugby has strengthened greatly. That surely has much to do with the quality of professional club rugby, a level down, which pumps ferociously. Yes, all kinds of southern hemisphere players are involved – our own included – but the quality of play has produced for the Home Unions, France and Italy an enhanced quality of international rugby.
Then you look at the way we've watered down the Currie Cup and all but abandoned our own club rugby. Go figure!
All the same, we count on the Boks to pull something out of the hat tomorrow evening. They must not disappoint the damsels of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, who are already strumming at their knickers in anticipation of supplying the elastic for a fashioning of catapults for the traditional celebratory feu de joie in which the streetlights are shot out.
'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!
I'D THOUGHT for a while that the Brexit process was beginning to look like Monty Python's Flying Circus. But it turns out to be based on an even older BBC comedy, Dad's Army, in which an intrepid Walmington-on-sea Home Guard platoon of elderly yokels under the command of a Captain Mainwaring do their bit to fend off Hitler.
But there's a surprising twist in the script. It's the Brexiteers who are the goons. Brexiteer-in-chief Jacob Rees-Mogg, who looks like Lord Snooty in the Beano comic, though I suppose he could belong in Captain Mainwaring's platoon, tried to engineer a rebellion of Tory backbenchers to call a vote of No Confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May.
The intent, presumably, was outright rejection of the compromise Brexit she is now trying to negotiate with the EU and commitment to a national lemming leap off the White Cliffs of Dover.
But he fell lamentably short of mustering the necessary backbench votes. Now it's known as the Dad's Army Coup. Ha, ha! Lotsa larfs!
But what happens next? Everyone now appears to be saying the lemming leap is not to be contemplated. The Governor of the Bank of England warns that it would have devastating consequences for the economy. Theresa May herself warns that Brexit itself is under threat. Does she mean "As you were!" as Captain Mainwaring would say to the Walmington-on-sea Home Guard? Is she saying it might not happen?
We're back to Monty Python:
"Too silly, too silly. Sergeant-major!"
"Get some discipline into these chaps!"
"Right sah! I will now show you 'ow to defend yourself when attacked by a villain 'oo is armed wiv a banana …"
It's a bit more sensible than the Brexit goings-on.
READER Dave Pickford gets off his letter to the North Pole a little early this year.
"Last year you got me a sweater for Christmas. This year I would prefer a moaner or a screamer.
Whatever can he mean?
What's furry, has whiskers and chases outlaws?
A posse cat.
One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.