Glasgow - Sometimes you just can’t help yourself. Sunday night was one of those nights. When the Blacks and the Boks are playing rugby, no matter that it be with seven or 15 men on each side, the blood runs a little quicker than it should, the head a hotter than is prudent and, before it is decent, a cheer slips out.
Several cheers slipped out and we may have clapped hands as well. I think there was an air punch or two.
This upset a journalist from New Zealand. He was bleak. The Blacks had lost. South Africans had cheered. The old enemy had won. “How you are you going to write an objective report about that,” he gurned. “Are you going to type, ‘We won?’ “ Well, no, you numpty, I didn’t. I’m not one for cheering in official media areas, but sometimes, when the moon is full or the Blacks are battered, the change comes upon you and the fan inside makes you howl to the night sky. I couldn’t let it go without a return pop.
“It’s like 1995 all over again, lads.” That did not help Afro-Kiwi relations one little bit. But, if we’re honest, they had started it. After South Africa had knocked the ball on when they needed to keep possession with the final minute ticking down, one of our friends from the land of the big white shroud of mourning chipped in with: “What was it Steve Waugh said to Herschelle Gibbs? You’ve just dropped the World Cup?” A myth of a line from the mists of time, and it stirred the pot.
It would have helped the Kiwi hack’s call for objectivity had he not been dressed in black from head to toe.
His mate was also dressed all in black. Some of the New Zealand media corps wear the same garb. The good blokes, the ones I know, have a little dignity when it comes to their clothing. They wear shorts and T-shirts, which helps distinguish them from their womenfolk. Wait, I had better stop. I’ve been down this road before, writing about the female of the species in New Zealand. Let’s just say I didn’t leave impressed and now know why they drink so much in Kiwi. A Kiwi hack didn’t take kindly to me suggesting this when I wrote it during the 2010 World Cup and posted a piece on it. Sadly, 90percent of the comments under his story agreed with me.
The Sevens did not get as much publicity as it deserved in today’s papers in Glasgow.
There were no Scots involved. Save for Usain Bolt, you’d think there was no-one else at these Games if you only read the Herald and the Scotsman. It’s a little like the English papers during the London Olympics, full of Team GB, save for Oscar Pistorius and, again, Bolt. A colleague from one of the larger English papers admitted they had gone ever so over the top. It’s to be expected. Scotland and London pumped millions into these few weeks of sporting feel-good.
Their celebrations are touching, their relationship with their athletes endearing and intimate enough to inform and entertain. And they are ever so subjective, just enough to remind you that you are in Glasgow and the Scots are a proud people.
There are many proud nations and athletes here. Anthony Bayne-Charles, who played for Barbados in the Sevens, is the son of Billy Ocean, who told us about what happens when the going gets tough. He is 31, discovered rugby at boarding school, plays a bit of music in his downtime, but does not cash in on his dad’s name. He came off the bench against Canada and Scotland, and started against New Zealand. His team got walloped by the Blacks, but, Anthony, you need not worry. South Africa got them back for you. Thanks for softening them up for us, er, them…
* Kevin McCallum is chief sports writer at Independent Newspapers.