Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Now this is touring!

How, in just 5 days, asks Kevin Musikanth, do 30 random people, sent out of town and tasked with playing 3 competitive games of rugby, almost always comes back as a tight knit group?

Some might suggest that you would have more chance of getting a hardened Blue Bulls supporter to wear blue and white stripes to Loftus, while drinking a Castle Light!

Getting to know everyone and developing a spirit, preparing Masterchef dishes on a budget, preparing rap music with no instruments, losing, laughing, hurting, winning are just by-products of a rugby tour …

That is the beauty of rugby.

The Ikeys emerging talent, brimming with young talent, but yet to have their first training session, flew to Pretoria to participate in the annual USSA tournament last week.

It is difficult not to get romantic about rugby when one thinks about what can be achieved in such a short period of time. The commitment and pride that takes place when a group of rugby individuals apply their efforts to a single determined cause, builds character that only the game of rugby can bring out.

Varsity got thrashed in their first match. Isolating the positives is one thing, but ordinary people would have given in … Not a touring rugby side. They pull tighter and bond closer.

Masterchef dishes in the wake of defeat and fines meetings to pull guys closer, they say a team that can sing together can do anything together. Late into the night signature tunes depicting characters within the squads, pulling the squad and individuals closer and closer … to the point that would possibly make the directors of Brokeback Mountain have a second glance.

Mind you, Gordon Ramsey would have been envious of the skills shown by these rugby warriors … catering to a battle scared rugby squad in gourmet style … couscous, grilled chicken drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar and feta … need I say more?

A practice to make sure that we commit as a team that will not yield … and we turn a 50-14 defeat into a more solid and admirable display, losing 6-0 against Varsity Cup semi finalists NNMU. In the process, raising a few eye brows given the improvement in such a short period of time.

Then the real bond … A suited sing song at a venue named after a snail without a house and a decedent salad leaf, and there was not a dry eye in the house. More laughter, bonding and songs into the night and the early morning.

Bright lights, big city do not affect the discipline and buy in of the group and the boys are on the training field on time, focussed and ready to play the last game with the expectancy of achieving that elusive win.

And win we did … 29-22 over Wits … A brilliant rugby performance and improvement.

The 30 individuals that embarked, solidified, determined and knitted into a team. Rugby being the catalyst. There is something to be said about this sport that we are obsessed with. That feeling that is difficult to explain. It is subliminal but it is there. It is incredible how much can change and what can be achieved in just five days.

That of course is the beauty of a tour and more importantly something that only a rugby player can understand. So much of winning in this game is determined by what happens off the field as much as what happens on it, sometimes the scoreboard just doesn’t explain what is really achieved through gaps that have been bridged and magical tour moments that become etched in one’s mind.

On a lighter side … A few rugby blokes and their gooses get together on the Saturday after tour and in order to try and bridge the gap, I suggest a fines meeting getting all the lasses involved, signature songs and all. This to try and get them to understand how important the bond of rugby is. As I watch the first girl drink with the wrong hand while blocking her nose, not understanding why we are singing the Irish national anthem while she is sipping (rather than downing) a quarter of a drink, the size skilfully negotiated earlier, with a horrid look on her face, I realize some things cannot be explained nor understood. And perhaps some words need to be left unspoken, and some moments left on the rugby field.

Kevin is currently the Director of Rugby at UCT and Wynberg High, the WP Amateur team Assistant Coach, having previous been the Head Coach at False Bay RFC. Kevin owns and runs a Gym business called Body Excel which has been in operation since 1997.

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...