It’s difficult to put into words just how much I despise the game of Rugby.
I spent a large part of my childhood in Wales where everyone is expected to be feverishly devoted to this national sport. Rugby is a real man’s game: a full-on contact sport for the strong, virile and powerful. Rugby heroes are gods. Soccer, by comparison, is for poofs.
For me it is the embodiment of everything I loathed about school sports – standing in a waterlogged field in the cold, wind and rain in a thin shirt and shorts, where my worth as a human being was decided on how well I could kick, catch or throw a ball while 15 of the most battle-hardened, brutal and merciless bullies in my year were put together in the opposing team, hell bent on breaking every bone in my body and drowning me face down in 6 inches of mud.
And when it was over, it was back to the changing rooms where, as an adolescent, self-conscious, pubescent lad, I was expected to take showers with other boys whose sole purpose was to try and humiliate and intimidate those who didn’t fit in when they were naked and at their most vulnerable.
When I watch films about army boot camps with sadistic sergeant majors, where the recruits are expected to follow the most inane orders and carry out despicable acts on weaker members in the name of discipline and even patriotism, it reminds me of sports at school. The first time I saw Full Metal Jacket, for example, I realised that had we been learning to use guns instead of a rugby ball for combat training at school, then Private Pyle would have been my role model.
So why this little nostalgic trip down memory lane?
My son’s friend goes to Rugby practice on Sundays and invited Rogan to go with him at the weekend. I kept the rush of fear, loathing, disgust and panic that instantly surged through my veins under control and calmly let Rogan know that it was perfectly acceptable for him to turn his friend down. But no, he insisted on going to see what it was like.
He thoroughly enjoyed himself and can’t wait to go back next week.
Just when you begin to think you have an idea of how the world works, it slips from your grasp and demonstrates you haven’t a clue really.