I know, I know, I know… I am revisiting the past, but only because I feel we need something to whinge about and for a bit of a giggle…
You see every now and again someone is silly/inebriated/idiotic/demented enough to ask for my opinion on something.
And every now and again I’m asked by non-rugby people (they exist) about my opinion regarding the types of people you may find playing Rugby.
So, in the immortal words of my Old Man “Be careful what you ask for Boy because you just might get it”. So I’ll share my opinion and dish out some reflections regarding ‘Rugby Positions Described’ just to fill the void whilst we all dive under the covers for a while and share the love.
I do not claim this as original work. Some of it is. But most of it is stolen observations, anecdotes and sometimes just downright plagiarism of stuff I’ve heard along the way in my +40yrs of pulling on the boots, doing up the laces and rediscovering my hamstrings fused to my spinal column sometime in the late 1970’s.
Please bear in-mind I am not au-fait with modern rugby technique and terminology. Nor do I really wish to be. I’m still coming to terms with lifting in the lineout. But more often than I probably should, I still strap on studs, roll out for a slap and a tickle and realise that despite the hype and the flash advertisements, not that much has actually changed for us who actually play the game. What amuses me more these days is invariably when some loud-mouth Backrower wonders out-loud what “The Old Grandad” thinks he’s doing out here. I like to remind them that I was never selected for my speed and ball skills to begin with so have a wee think just what I’m doing out here now, what that then says about them and that whilst I’m an incredibly handsome fella, my missing teeth are not a result of poor oral hygiene so again have a think about why I might be out here. Also if you are so paternally confused that you think I’m your Grand-dad then you had better go and ask your Grandmum how many rugby players the slappa has actually shagged over the years – maybe I actually am your Grand-dad – I dunno?
But I digress. So without further a-do I offer the sacrifice below for critique & comment as a ham-fisted attempt at explaining rugby positions to the uninitiated:
Starting at the beginning, no greater do we have then the Props. For the Nufties, the Props wear No1 & 3 jerseys and the real ones (not the fat-backrower imposters) are immensely proud to do so. Just quietly, Props accept that they are morally, intellectually and generally constitutionally far superior to anyone else on the paddock and they generally are more accommodating of their opposing Props than they are of their own other team-mates from beyond the Row. It’s a long-accepted truism that the most important person picked in any team is the tight-head Prop and the second most important is the reserve tight-head Prop and then closely followed by the loose-head Prop. All else are incidental passengers although allowances are made for Hookers.
There is no typical physique for the Pride of the Pack with everything from schooner-curling Homer Simpson’s through to tin-pushing Silver Back Gorillas being quite common. However life-long exposure does tend to warn the observant to be particularly wary of the older, smaller and more-unassuming ones as there is generally good reason why they survived this long…
But alongside the unseen but clearly emanating halo-affect of intelligence and rationale, Prop-dom is generally gifted with pre-requisites of unseemly hairiness, strength, random compulsions towards sweaty nudity, karaoke addictions and general ‘uniqueness’. Along with prodigious appetite for both solids and fluids. More-so fluids. Again, they are proud of this and see it as both their cross to bear but also their gift from the Rugby Gods.
The role of Prop is unforgivingly noble; to let others shine. They support the scrum, belt the ruck, lift the line-out jumpers but most importantly provide the moral compass for the herd of unethical cats that make up the rest of the team (especially the Hooker). And at no time is this role more critical than when on bus-trip or on tour.
It is important to recognise there are 2 types of Props. Looseheads (no1) play on the left-side of the scrum and combines more with the Hooker and left-side Lock. As they have a wildly loose-head outside the opposing tight-head they sometimes get a little carried away with such freedoms and so tend to be more impulsive. Tight-heads (no3) tend to be a bit more philosophical about life as a reflection of how their skull is kept within the straight & narrow confines. This subtle but real difference generally manifests as about a quarter-second difference in timing on when they throw their first punch.
It may surprise some but Props are unbelievably multi skilled. They can step, pass, pirouette and chip-kick off both sides. But following a secret conclave at the Vatican in 1876, The Secret Society of Props have signed international confidentiality agreements not to openly display such gregarious gifts in public (it lets Backs feel they contribute). Instead they read Schopenhauer, compose Haiku in their spare time and anchor the Boat-race.
In closing, whilst Props are universally acknowledged as the smartest players on the pitch, they are rumoured to have one Cryptonian weakness. Archaeological records do indicate with some certainty that beer, red wine and generous portions of cleavage have been mixed together in secret, subterranean caverns and subjected to endless chanting and Sting songs to create a powdered concoction so powerful that, when mixed with rum & karaoke, it stops Props taking over the world.