The rugby vs hockey argument has always made my blood boil. Well, not so much the argument itself, I'm all for healthy rivalry, but rather the narrow-minded point of view (in some communities) that hockey is a wussie sport, moff-stock. Why? For the simple reason that it's not rugby.
Mockery in jest is good - rugby guys mock hockey guys and vice versa, it's the same with hockey girls (lesbians, of course) and netball girls. Don't even get me started on that sport... "ooh, look at me! I caught the ball with both my hands! How skilled I am. Now I'm not allowed to move my feet, so that cuts down on the coordination and allows me to focus on where I'm going to pass this over-sized ball..." Okay, you got me started. No offense to anyone who play(ed) netball, but you're still a bunch of fairies.
Back to rugby/hockey.
Listening to some of the Super14 commentary this weekend resurfaced the issue for me. I play hockey and am more hockey-biased, but I like rugby and my friends who play rugby. I enjoy watching a good game and I can appreciate the skill involved in trying to read the bounce of a egg-shaped ball while 15 men from the opposing side wait to pounce you from every angle.
But surely I'm not the only one who finds the overt sexuality amusing?
"Hougard goes in low and hard..." [His teammates like enthusiasm.]
"Adams whips it out to Botha..." [Naughty - he'd get arrested outside a primary school.]
Referee warning player: "You must release him, then play the ball." [Or at least have a safeword that you've both agreed upon before the time]
"Crouch... Touch... Pause... Engage!" [Who says rugby players aren't romantic?]
On screen, Habana makes a dash for the line but gets thrown to the ground - in the tumbling process, his attacker manages to wedge his head between Habana's thighs. I've watched a lot of moff-stock and not once have any of the men ended with someone's face snuggled in another's crotch for any amount of time.
Not to mention the scrums, where hands go up and in areas that I'm pretty sure most hockey guys would jealously protect during a match - especially if it was a team mate doing the grabbing.
I also feel the need to whisper, in as hushed typing as I can muster... Kamp Staaldraad. Oh dear.
So please tell me, how can an avid rugger-bugger honestly argue that hockey is more gay than rugby? From a number of SAUs, I can attest to the fact that most male hockey players are definitely not same-sex inclined. I cannot say the same about female hockey players... there's smoke and most definitely fire in that case. Eye-opening education when on provincial tour at the tender age of 15.
Rugby is a manly game, no doubt about that. Certainly less drama-queenish than football, where a player tripping over his own shoelace results in him clutching his shins and wailing loudly for the next 3 minutes. In rugby, when a man stays down it means he's unconscious. And guys bleed and stuff. You don't get much more macho than that.
What I would love to know is this: just how many of our national rugger-buggers are same-sex inclined? Cos I think they're having a ball on the pitch. Literally.