I am not married. I am certainly not married to any sport, but if I had to, I would say Rugby Union has been my longest serving, most faithful partner.
We’ve have some great times, me and Union. A few premierships, more than a few broken bones and misplaced joints, and a couple of World Cup victories. The latter of which I obviously had nothing to do with.
But some time in my mid-teens I got a little curious. I started dabbling in new territory and began playing with a very different kind of ball. It may have shared the same goose-pimpled flesh, but it carried with it a whole new set of connotations. That’s right, I dropkicked my Gilbert and began fiddling with a Steeden (there was this one time with a Sherrin, but we don’t need to go into that).
It was new and exciting this League. Filthy and bold. Simpler than my old lover yes, but its sheer willingness to get down and dirty and do things my former wasn’t more than made up for it. My new lover liked it rough, in the mud and didn’t balk at a bit of blood. That isn’t to say that my old lover didn’t dabble in these things, but it was more refined; no experimenting on the white couch, that sort of thing.
Yet, as is so often the case with lurid and clandestine affairs, the novelty wore off. Our fling, while kinky and passionate, could not go the distance and I returned to my first love, chagrined and sorrowful, and desperate for a fresh start.
Sweet Union was forgiving and welcoming and even willing to learn a few tricks from that filthy slut, Rugby League. It has been gracious, as it always was, and even lets me return to my lustful lover on the odd occasion to get the build up of filth out of my system. Heck, Union’s now dabbling a bit itself! Getting a bit dizzy on the Izzy, if you know what I mean?*
And even though we both know we shouldn’t, that outrageous little skank just keeps on dragging us back. In moments of weakness, we crave its depravity. In modern times it has gone next level in its filth: anal play, water sports at weddings, choking and even the odd bit of skat – what’s not to love?
Union doesn’t do these things. Gosh Darnit! I wouldn’t want it to! The Dionysian perversions of League are all well and good every now and then, but would you bring it home to your parents? If your family dinners often degenerate into ruthless partner-swapping gangbangs, then yes maybe you would, but I assure you the majority of us don’t want to introduce a partner to meet sweet Maw and Paw when there’s a very real risk they could end up on the dining table, on all fours, with a turkey drumstick in their arsehole.
But that’s what league is about and always will be about. It’s the trashy town bike that is always there when you need a little cuddle, or perhaps something far more sinister. It opens its doors to everyone, because it doesn’t judge and is eternally optimistic that the next person through the door may have a bit of meth.
It knows what it is and plays a vital role in our lives, because sometimes you’ve got to push all of your sensibilities aside and just let someone fucking fist you.
By Alasdair McClintock
* I’m not even sure what I mean, but I’d wager it has something to do with Israel Folau.