Due to a recent move and a lack of space in my car I’ve had to leave my TV 500 kilometres away, leaving me with lots of free time. I thought I’d channel that into something creative by putting together a form guide for each of the Super Rugby mascots.
Blues: Yep, Johnny Depp has really let himself go. Captain (Jack?) Bluebeard grew up in the rough seas around Auckland. In a misguided attempt to go ‘full pirate’ at the tender age of 14 Bluebeard ended up with two wooden legs and now is confined to a Segway.
On the field Blueball’s play is stifled somewhat by his inability to step, jump and actually grow a beard (not a goatee) but he does have impeccable balance, somehow increasing his acceleration the lower he is to the ground. Despite carrying a cutlass his attack is limited due to his inability to perceive depth; he has two eyes but likes to wear the patch to enhance his idiom.
Brumbies: Widely rumoured to be a direct descendant of Phar Lap, every horse from the last charge of the Light Brigade, the brumby the man from Snowy River caught and the horse he rode; Brumby Jack’s got good breeding. Known for his massive hoof, this human-named equine has led the mascots in kick metres gained in his last three seasons.
He hit a hurdle this year however when he badly damaged his quad (penta?hexa?hepta?) when going head-to-head with Rusty the Red Koala and was lucky not to be ‘taken to the farm,’ or as us kids in the country learnt: ‘shot in the head from point blank with a .308, tied to the back of the ute and dragged up to DCP (dead cow paddock)’.
Jack has since galloped back from injury to show us some barnstorming runs later in the season. His game has been let down in an area where no matter how hard he works he just doesn’t seem to improve. Put simply, he has no hands.
Bulls: The warrior known only as the Bull is an undefinable, nebulous enigma wrapped in myth; rumour has it if you cut the Bull open inside it you will find a man dressed all in white wearing a racing helmet. Some in-depth undercover research (looking at the Bulls website) has revealed that Bull was born in The Kraal, Loftus Versfeld on 1 April 2002 to proud parents Broe and Daisy – ironically making him Aries although listed as a Taurus (ha!).
Sometimes referred to as the Blue Bull, although like all cattle this means nothing to him as he is colourblind, often finding himself on the wrong side of the ruck (has anyone spoken to Richie McCaw’s optometrist?).
The Bull can be devastating in attack (displaying crash ball skills of which Tom Carter can only dream) but is frequently beaten by fleet-footed backs in defence. The Bull is also often let down by poor discipline, recently suspended for four weeks after charging an assistant referee when the ball was kicked out on the full from outside the 22.
Cheetahs: Whether proving to the world he is faster than Bryan Habana or whacking on a pair of Wayfarers and flogging cheesy snacks in the ’90s, the Cheetah (also known only as Cheetah – seriously South Africa, lift your game) has always been a toiler.
He possesses that rare combination of supreme pace and a high work ethic of which coaches only dream. So ridiculous is his work ethic that if you call this number 051 407 1764 (try it – it’s real!) and ask for Yolandi you can hire him for kids’ parties — the guy doesn’t stop.
Although known as a bit of pussy in contact he makes up for it by chasing guys down and frequently pulls out try-savers. The main downside many coaches see with Cheetah is that he won’t follow a game plan at all and seems impervious to change (similar to his cousin Leopard).
Chiefs: The Chiefs mascot is all about rugby smarts, about tactics and deception — he’s the master of it. What this ironically-named giant-headed man brings to the pitch is a frenzy of movement and sound that confuses the shit out of opposition.
He likes to make the crowd bring chainsaws and cowbells, creating a cacophony that deafens anyone unfortunate enough to be staying on the north island; his giant headgear the only thing that prevents him from claiming compo. Tactfully, by taking a page out of the Berrick Barnes Guide to Remembering Your Birthday and constantly wearing headgear, Little Chief gains the upper hand by fooling his opposition into believing he is mentally impaired.
Crusaders: Not only are Crusaders happy to cheat when it comes to McCaw throwing salt in the ref’s eyes every time he comes near a ruck, but now they’ve turned a Mexican basketball match of Juan on Juan into a prison shanking with six guys on one! Add the fact that they’re riding horses (actual horses! Brumby Jack hang your velour head in shame) and since a horse in itself can be a mascot, then that’s a whopping 12 on one.
The Crusaders Horsemen work very well as a team, utilising quality structure and getting back into formation from broken play with ease. Scintillating in counter-attack, ambush and siege these bible-bashing bastards can really run a team through.
On the downside however, they are the only mascots to defecate in public, naked, on all fours, with a uniformed man on their back. If you ask me, they may be the best going round, but you’ve got to admit, they’re a little bit gay.
Force: Resembling an early scary-looking black and white Disney cartoon character, Westy has often struggled living the opposite life of the ugly duckling: raised as a swan as a child only to later find out that he was in fact a slab of bacon that had been punched back to life. It was this cruel turn of fate that helped create Westy’s steely-eyed determination and presence on the field.
Whilst known to be susceptible to an easy high shot and prone to Andrew Walker-like flights of fancy, Westy keeps coming back to keep the fans happy and they love him for it.
He’s especially a hit with the ladies where his long neck comes in handy, according to one high profile perth socialite: ‘he always keeps eye contact’.
Highlanders: This crazy Celtic country man loves to live up to his namesake by constantly scaling the highest possible surface he can find and screaming at the heavens.
No one can understand whether his blood curdling cry is due to his being part of a race of immortals that are fighting to the death for the ultimate prize of omnipotence or if it is simply because every time he gets to the top of something his nuts appear to be on fire – which is why he wears the kilt (he’s actually German – fact).
The Highlander dominates the lineout, using his sword to cut the legs out from opposing jumpers. He is also a monster at the breakdown, using his unique combination of brutality, a skirt and a mullet to literally go berserker. The Highlander however, would make Chariots look like Quade with his lack of distributing, occasionally going to the point of snatching the ball from his own teammate shouting ‘There can only be one!’.
Hurricanes: It seems to be every second NZ mascot in is a captain, allthough this one has a plane and the other a Segway (are they trying to leave?). That said, Captain Hurricane is a mercurial talent, tempestuous in nature he mixes moments of pure genius, madness, and coach-stress together to play a game that is a whirlwind of trouble for opposition defence, often leaving them clutching at air.
However, like an unnamed marquee player for the Melbourne Rebels who plays flyhalf who shall not be named and remain anonymous and unnamed, he can be a bit of an airhead (read: another type of head). His off-the-field shenanigans frequently keep him in the headlines for the wrong reason.
He’s very much a princess of a back, often going shopping and getting his moustache tipped and tweeting about it while it’s happening, then taking a photo of it and tweeting that, then re-tweeting his own earlier tweet about how he was getting his moustache tipped, all the while celebrating a loss without his team. You might say he in no way resembles a player like Danny Cipriani. He’s also shit in defence.
Lions: Mufasa is the perennial under-performer of the Mascots. He has been able to literally tear apart all other South African mascots at Currie Cup level but he has failed to perform come the Super Rugby competition. Mufasa has always had pride, that is not to be disputed. However his pride often makes him find fault in his teammates rather than looking after his own game.
In one famous roar at his teammates after a devastating loss to the Shorks he was recorded saying ‘You deliberately disobeyed me! And what’s worse you put Nala in danger!’ to much confusion. When questioned in the press conference afterwards his only explanation was to say ‘I’m only brave when I have to be’.
For all his faults Mufasa has to be the best defender in the competition, able to take down opponents twice his size. His cardio is surprisingly suspect for a Lion, often fading in the final quarter. Many believe this is because of a genetic defect that left him without nostrils.
Rebels: Seriously f#cking cool, sub-zero. Too cool to be a mascot, too cool to even exist. The Rebels mascot coined not having a name before the artist formally known as Prince jumped on the bandwagon and made it not cool, decidedly lukewarm.
The nameless rebel is always ahead of the curve though, that’s why he doesn’t exist. Über cool. He hangs out at nightclubs you don’t even know about, you couldn’t even find the line outside. He’s already inside, finger-banging your girlfriend and her hotter sister.
He only has one rule, and that’s to follow no rules, even his own. Rumour has it he’s the best damn mascot ever to have walked the earth but you’d never know, he’s too cool to play. Oh and he doesn’t walk, he struts.
Reds: Rusty the Red Koala is seen as the new breed of mascot. Possessing all the skills and ability to be a great of the game and all the decorum of a Mercedes Corby tantrum, Rusty has been known to go on all night benders causing him to miss team meetings, training sessions, squad announcements and Tri Nations deciders.
His lame excuses include ‘I’m a koala, I’m supposed to sleep 19 hours a day’ and ‘Her alarm… err, my alarm clock didn’t go off’. Rusty is also rumoured to be the sole reason behind the koala chlamydia epidemic, lucky bastard. Rusty will continue to punch above his weight on and off the field but will he become a great of the game? Time will tell… better set that alarm.
Sharks: Sharkie is one mascot straight out of the blue.
No one would have predictedthis genetic freak would have survived in the harsh world above the sea but he has not only survived, but thrived. Sharkie possesses the ability to sniff out an intercept from 10 kilometres away and is extremely adept in wet conditions.
While Sharkie has had some bad moments in his career (the most notably teaching Lote Tuqiri that ridiculous try celebration hand gesture) he has always dived in head first when presented with a challenge. Sharkie is dogged in his determination, once he has you he never lets go.
The only time I’ve ever seen someone shrug him off in a tackle is when he tried tackling Schalk Burger. ‘He had him all right’ said Sharkie’s coach. ‘I’m not saying anything happened, but look how as soon as Sharkie lets go he covers up his eyes, they were pretty red and sore’.
Stormers: And I thought I was screwed when I discovered the Rebels don’t have a mascot. The Stormers however, like Nadya Suleman, have an infinite supply.
From what I’ve managed to glean from my limited research is that the mascot is a random child (on loan from Angelina Jolie) who leads the team out onto the pitch at home games.
So their skill level, strength and size are always going to be limiting factors. On the plus side, they’re full of potential. On the down side they’re basically midget drunks, constantly crying and unable to walk without falling over.
Waratahs: Tah Man puts the power back in flower power, and removes the flower and replaces it with more power; power power.
That’s right, this mascot is all about bulking up in the pre-season, mid-season, post-season, pumping iron and getting pumped up. He’s in the gym more than he’s on the park and not only has it negatively affected his skills but also his health.
This megalomaniac was once just a regular maniac, until he starting chatting online to some guy called Zyzz. It was a downward spiral that saw him go through more drugs than a Hunter S. Thompson long weekend; ending up taking steroids spliced with plant matter that altered his DNA, forcing him to hide his blooming face. Tah Man has since gotten clean, got himself a Sis Tah and fought his way back to an elite level.
His story has been one that has endeared him to fans and foes alike.