Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Famous Grouse: April 23

Latest Weekend Argus column. As submitted for publication. And before somebody decided to change a few words here and there and drop Heidi fucking Klum into my work. Does this sort of thing happen to other columnists? Some sub-editing drone deep in the works suddenly deciding that some copy could be improved by willy-nilly dropping in names of celebrities and without telling the author? -- AD

SOMETHING terrible is happening to South African rugby, and I’m not talking about Peter de Villiers. 

Hang on, let me rephrase that.

Something terrible has already happened to rugby. It started some years ago but now it has spread to SuperSport, place of the blokey blokes responsible for beaming the game into the homes of subscription TV viewers across the country.

And home is a good place to watch rugby, especially today of all days, what with the roads out there being choked with half-dead marathon runners coughing up over one another. But that is neither here nor there.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Someone somewhere arose one morning from a comfortable bed back in the mists of time and had what could, at a stretch, be considered an idea, one to mull over with tea and cookies on a Monday morning.

Why not steal a concept from the Americans? Slap a bunch of half-naked young women who pose like circus ponies on the sidelines when the teams run onto the field, and every now and then have them jump about and wave bits of fluff?

Very top notch notion! Because, really, when you think about it, South African men had lost interest in rugby, hadn’t they? Where were they on the weekends? Certainly not in front of the television, worse the wear for the beer and biltong. No, they were down at the nursery snapping up trays of annuals to stuff into a forlorn corner of the garden or maybe slipping into spandex shorts for a bit of pedal action.

It was a crisis. Something had to be done to bring us home. And lo, the hubba hubba meisies on the touchline.

It worked a treat. Now there’s something to look at when we watch rugby. Come Saturdays, the Mahogany Ridge is packed with manne eager for a glimpse of hot flesh with the dull thud of chaps bashing into one another. There is excitement once more, and the promise of off-the-ball action. Not to mention the brandies and coke.

Rugby was temporarily saved. By the sort of backwardness that put the craven into Danie Craven.

Alas, it was only a matter of time before SuperSport, in a fit of unfettered thought, decided to jump in and get their very own cheesecake.

You may have noticed. For the past few weeks they’ve been on a farcical quest . . .  slight pause here for dramatic effect . . . for their very first female rugby presenter!

Yes. In 2011, no less.

There is every reason why they should have female rugby presenters. But the way they’re going about this charade of gender equalitarianism insults just about anyone you’d care to think of, save the hopelessly Cro-Magnon.

We know this, because they’ve shown us. On the television. Shamelessly. We’ve seen smug jerks with microphones asking applicants dumb-ass questions like, “What position do you play if you have a number three on your jersey?” It’s the sort of patronising guff Miss SA contestants endured in Penny Rey Coelen’s time. Which was way before they had even invented sex. Never mind sexism.

There have been some interesting web postings by applicants who have endured the  cattle call experience of the job “interview”. One blogger, objecting to SuperSport’s “tits and bums” approach to rugby commentary, has rightly questioned whether Darren Scott got the job because he looked like a supermodel.

For the record, I’d like to point out that years ago Darren was in fact a supermodel, a stunner whose legendary centrefolds set the magazine world alight. But then he let himself go, and now he looks like a liver spot. Naas, on the other hand, hasn’t aged a day since he got the job, but then he’s a vampire.

Shame, but our successful applicant will have to work with these people. Worse still is the godawful title that comes with the job: “Lady Rugga.” As in Lady Gaga. Excuse me, but what the hey? (Memo to self: revealing outfit of boerewors and chops, maybe?)

But moving on. It’s up to rugby fans to help rugby. We need to think big. Outside the box. For the nation. Like Clint Eastwood, when he made that film, Evict Us, with Nelson Freeman and that little guy as Francois Pienaar.

We need to liberate the struggle songs from the ANC and sing specially adapted versions at games. I’m serious. What could be more stirring than the nation-building spectacle of hundreds of thousands of expats in Auckland all singing Dubul iKiwi or Mshini Wam at the forthcoming Rugby World Cup?

That’s provided, of course, we play rugby for a change. And not that girl stuff.

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