Saturday, 13 February 2010

Rugby, rugby and more rugby

A weekend of rugby – and it isn’t over yet. You couldn’t grow up (as a white) in South Africa without having at least a passing interest in rugby. At my all-girls school we tracked the fortunes of South African rugby and cricket very closely – otherwise what would we speak to the boys about? I spent occasional afternoons on the touchline watching male friends being pounded into the ground. (One friend who went to live in America damaged his shoulder so badly playing school rugby that he was subsequently pronounced 4F by the draft board in the US so couldn’t be sent to Vietnam. The things you end up being grateful for.)

If rugby is on you can be sure that the television is on in the Goldberg household. Saturday afternoon saw Wales play Scotland – Scotland being the favourites. I came into the living room about three quarters of the way through when Scotland seemed unassailable and yet the men in red triumphed and Wales won spectacularly. Regrettably the Irish were mauled by the French (note rugby pun!). Tomorrow England v Italy – fingers crossed and yes, I do shout for England as I have lived most of my life here.

From there we went to see the movie Invictus. I was hesitant about going - I have rarely heard convincing South African accents from American actors; further I was somewhat suspicious that it would be “heartwarming” a damning criticism in this household. But of course Number One husband wanted to go and off we went. I started crying about half way through and sobbed till the end. Of course it is idealized, it is sentimental and even heartwarming – and I know how the story ended but it is a superb film and the rugby scenes are incredible – and made by an American! I don’t think anyone who did not live through apartheid can ever understand the symbolism of rugby for the Afrikaner and the hatred of it by the black population. This film captures that.

I remember the final between South Africa and the All Blacks well. We were at the (now defunct) Hanover Square Wine Bar surrounded by New Zealanders, Australians and Brits watching the game. There was a magnum of champagne to the person who guessed the final score. Of course the All Blacks were going to win - they were invincible, with the monumental Jonah Lomu destroying England (and everyone else) almost single-handed, so, to be contrary, I put the Springboks to win – and so they did. I cried when Mandela came onto the field in a Springbok Jersey then and I cried again tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment