A gentlemen’s game… in Australia?

FOR a start, we invented it. It’s called Rugby, you see, after the town. Not Sydney or Thuringowa.. The Thuringowa World Cup? I don’t think so.

And it’s not football. That’s a round thing kicked about by fairies. Or it is in England – the land where they invented it. No, it’s rugby. Or rugger, actually, as opposed to rugby league. And in the land of its birth, rugger is considered a gentlemen’s game, so what they’re doing with it in Australia I can’t imagine.

Trying to improve themselves, no doubt.

‘Twas ever thus… for more than a 1000 years English gentlemen have been battling the peasant classes, who had ideas above their station.

There was King John versus Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Thirteen of them as I recall. I bet they played league. Then there was Watt Tyler who led the peasants’ revolt in 1381, until King Richard cut his head off.

Sadly, that’s not allowed any more, or tonight’s match would be a no show.

After that the Poms came up with a better idea. They shipped them all the peasants over here, which was clever while it lasted. But sooner or later the colonials were bound to try copying the mother country in various ways — like standing upright, thinking without moving their lips, and playing ball games.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Australians (though I’m not sure I’d want my daughter to marry one – especially one that played rugby) but you can’t go flogging every good idea that takes your fancy and pretending it’s your own. I mean, most of the names are English, the government system comes from Westminster, and we’ve even got their queen.

The Poms invented the postal system, the steam engine, television (well, all right, that was a Scot… but it’s close!) and penicillin.

And the Australians….?

The Hills Hoist. A clever little gadget, I grant you, but not what you might call a civilisation-changer.

Oh yes… and the boomerang. It’s not even round, for heaven’s sake, and it certainly doesn’t bounce.

Now they want the World Cup. I think both sides should sit down and discuss it like civilized human beings (even if only one side is!).

They could thrash out this accusation about boring play, for a start. Not that there’s much point.

This is not the Charge of the Light Brigade we’re talking about – all blood and guts and a bayonet in the Balaclava.

This is about winning. The Poms have been a world power now for a 1000 years. All done with tea, and a chat about the weather.

And words like ‘gosh’ and ‘terrific’ and ‘jolly good’.

If the game gets so boring the Wallabies fall asleep, well… jolly good!

And that’s another thing! Wallabies? Wallabies! A wallaby is a cute marsupial. It eats grass! How can you expect to be world champions with a name like Wallabies. What’s wrong with ‘Australia’! The English don’t feel the need to be known as the Bulldogs (an animal that does at least have proper teeth!).

I’ve never understood the Australian preoccupation with nicknames: The Crocodiles, The Sharks, The Cowboys… since when were cowboys Australian, anyway!

You know what they’re calling the Wallabies in England?

The Wannabies.

And you can’t blame them. If you stick your head up in a scrum someone’s bound to rip it off.

Which is what’s going to happen to me when the population of north Queensland has read this.

I plead extenuating circumstances. Like kids from broken homes. I am a victim of two cultures and the slackness of an immigration official who signed my forms in a weak moment.

I, too, am an Aussie. It’s just that the operation is taking longer than expected. I’m trying really hard though. I’m practising with words like ‘dinky di’ and ‘fair dinkum’, ‘g’day’ and ‘mate’. I even have a friend called Bruce and another called Raelene.

And this evening I shall have two flags tucked behind the sofa. When the final whistle blows I’ll be waving the winning flag — whichever it is! — and pledging my lifelong allegiance to it.

Two-faced, or smart?

Smart, naturally, because I’m a…a…

I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Fair dinkum.