we can’t help it if we’re popular: a defence of rugby league

January 6th, 2012

People! We have shocking and alarming news. Please, sit. Maybe grab a hanky and hold it to your mouth with a fluttery hand.

Paul Pottinger thinks our beloved rugby league is an atrocity.

First of all, atrocity is not a word to be thrown around lightly, young man. (Old man? Middle-aged man? Who knows. We care not for proper research. Would much prefer to eat crisps and watch cricket).

‘Atrocity’ is Significant. It should be saved for situations where it is warranted, like war crimes, Kardashians and Queensland winning a seventh Origin.

Mysterious-aged-Paul tells us no footy means none of the:

“… stifling tedium of blanket coverage, the grinding banality of match commentary, the sub-trivial parish pump gossip and news of yet another player’s off-field atrocity.”

“The featureless white noise of the mate-against-mate, meathead-against-meathead cavalcade is comfortably distant; just a grim prospect. Like root canal treatment.”

Pretty sure as soon as Robbie Farah comes home from the cricket and Ben Te’o finishes his law readings for the day they will both be OUTRAGED at being called meatheads, Paolo.

(Can we call you Paolo? We think it makes you sound more festive.)

Apparently Paolo has a few gripes with footy.

Number one is that a non-Yank once missed his flight and then played for the Tomahawks.

You know who’s missed a flight and isn’t mentioned in this article? EVERYONE WE KNOW.

You know who has a particularly loose grasp on the concept of international allegiance and isn’t mentioned in this article? EVERYONE IN ENGLISH CRICKET.

It’s probably not even worth pointing out that calling our special brand of footy “a loud provincial oaf let loose upon the big city – obnoxious, flatulent and prone to publicly displaying its genitals” is pretty damn ironic. It’s actually the verbal equivalent of a giant blimp named “the Irony” that flies around in the airspace above rural Victoria filled with pantsless players from St Kilda.

SEE WHAT WE DID THERE? Almost as good as when we put a CRL logo on an orange.

Number two is that we have tackles, and not proper ye olde rucks. This is ‘manufactured’. As opposed to say, NFL. Or penalty goals. Or anything else that happens due to rules and not the natural flow of a bunch of guys holding a ball.

Oh honey, we are sensing a pattern. Despite being pretty much dudes in dresses, we do occasionally do girly things.

We have spent countless hours with our girls getting drunk, eating cheese and analysing why boys do the things they do.

Why does he like her? Why didn’t he call? What does this text mean? HE WROTE AN X AT THE END THAT MEANS HE LOVES ME RIGHT? Yeah, we’re neurotic and stereotypical. We admit it.

But all that experience is why we were able to come up with some special ladylike insight into Paolo’s opinion piece.

He doesn’t really hate league cause of it’s American-football-style corporate sponsorship, the money it – like AFL – gets from booze companies, its rules, how muscly its players are, or the fact that, like Rugby union, there are only four countries with a proper hope in hell of winning each World Cup.

Nope, like he says, he doesn’t dislike it at all.

What he really hates is that other people adore it. It’s just like when your ex-boyfriend gets his next girlfriend. You don’t actually hate this girl, even if she the lady equivalent of rugby league. You don’t hate her cause she’s brassy or loud, hates wearing pants, loves smashing too many cans, tells the same stories or says inappropriate things. Not gonna lie, that was just a description of our worst qualities.

You feel like ya hate her cause he likes her more than you. Just like Paolo hates rugby league, and not other sports with the same sponsors or scandals. Paolo hates that the Sydney papers and his neighbours down the street like it more than … whatever he follows. For some reason it feels like it’s probably rugby union as well as MMA. And even though MMA is objectively AWESOME, the whole thing is still better summed up with a different four-letter word: envy.

Confession: we do all care to a creepy degree. WE JUST REALLY LOVE FOOTY. Why else would we give a shit that Ben Hannant had swine flu? Or that Brett White enjoys Bonsai as a hobby? Dude’s right to be envious of how much passion there is for league, on and off the field. It’s why we like punch-ons. It’s proof they’re feeling as angry as we are.

Our saints are like B.Moz, the NSW winger with the broken leg who leaps onto it anyway. Our holy day is when we stop and remember John Sattler’s broken jaw.

And despite what ya might think, Paolo, that passion is why footy is on your back pages eight months a year, not the fact that the sport continued through WWI. Sometimes players punch on, sometimes they get outed on TV for having the runs, sometimes TVs fall apart and Billy Idol happens, but we love our league anyway.

How did the Johnny Come Comparatively Lately code wrest popularity from its parent? By inherent superiority? Crowd-pleasingly open play? Or the fact that for five seasons it was the only game in town?

The NSW and Queensland rugby unions suspended senior competition during World War I. Rugby league did not. When Balmain played Glebe in the 1915 grand final, young men were being sacrificed at Gallipoli. The Queensland Rugby Union was unable to reform until 1929.

By no means do I impugn those who played on or to suggest that many thousands have not worn both khaki and club colours. But it does strike me as a slightly anomalous note when the code wraps itself in the flag and has the Last Post played at its Anzac Day Test.

There are only three paragraphs in your article that make us angry, and there they are! As entertaining as it might be to think league joyfully embraced World War as an opportunity to play more games, grow their brand and conquer the Australian market while the soldier’s backs were turned … BITCH PLEASE.

Yes, and they probably also went back to the sheds afterwards and laughed it up at how funny it was that their friends and countrymen were dying, too, huh?

If you wanna know more about all the OTHER sports that played on through the war, RL1908 can tell you all about ’em.

And if you wanna read a much more smarterer and more eloquent guy explaining why he loves rugby league despite/because of its violence, you should read Murderous Exhibitions by Michael Winkler. It’s AMAZING.

In the meantime, we’re gonna drink some industrial beer and count down to round one, and let Gretchen Weiners sum this whole thing up in one easy sentence:

Love and kisses,
Kiki and Sassy

  • http://twitter.com/wldhrtkim Kim Wildheart

    Thanks ladies.    I couldn’t have said it better myself.   How dare some farking car rooter question my intelligence, just because I love the game of rugby league.

  • Sally_burton37

    Ta for that. Get him told. Who is he anyway? just some amoeba.