Myth Guided

There are a lot of standard stereotypes used by the various nations to describe themselves and the English. Largely they like to portray their own character as being something out of ‘The Wild Bunch’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ or ‘Rambo’.

The Welsh like to see themselves as gritty miners (mostly prior to ‘The Wicked Thatch’ obviously), the Jocks think they all fought with Braveheart (they must be really pissed off that he was played by an Aussie), the Irish are wild eyed red haired lunatics and the French simply offer a Gallic shrug with a moody and indecipherable grunt.

Having established themselves as a cross between Rocky and The Incredible Hulk (FFS) they then proceed to pour scorn on the English as an over privileged group of hoorays from public school and elite universities who sing dirty songs in an upper class accent. This would only be accurate if the entire English rugby playing community was also in the Tory cabinet!

I don’t know how Johnno, Lawrence and Jason (Leonard) fit into this mould – perhaps it is because they were all famed for wearing bowler hats!

It is interesting that it is only us who are disparaged in this way – the Taffs don’t have a go at the Jocks or the Paddy’s and vice versa.

The team I played for was very much an eclectic bunch of blokes – jobs ranged from builders, police, fireman and insurance. We did have a few who worked in the city – mostly attracted by the excessive drinking I think – we also had some who worked on the bins and in black cabs. A few of us were in marketing and advertising – and again the opportunities for frequent alcohol intake had more than a little influence in our choice of work.

Nobody actually gave a stuff what you did – but were more concerned in whether you could tackle and could be trusted not to give you a hospital pass.

By contrast we played against several Welsh teams who boasted surgeons and lawyers in their ranks. Hypocrites? What the Welsh? No – surely not!

The Kiwis are also fairly disparaging about us and to be honest I have no idea why – we rarely beat them (neither does anyone else for that matter) and they have been the number one team in the world for most of my life. The Kiwis regard themselves as having a divine right to be the best team in the world and for most of the time it is a belief that is fairly well placed – they especially seem to like beating their neighbours from across the Tasman Sea.

The Aussies like to take the piss out of us Poms but, to be fair, they do it better than most as they have a good sense of humour.  They are also tougher on their own team when they play badly than anyone else I know. Aussies like to see themselves as the saviours of running rugby – and when they get it right they are – it seems a shame for them that the rest of the world insists on having scrums!

The Springboks – well they don’t seem to like anybody and as far as I can tell the English are hated no more than the Aussies or All Blacks. I have no idea how they would like to be seen – but a raging bull elephant would seem to be more accurate than a sleek springbok. In contrast to the Wallabies I think they’d settle for just having permanent set pieces.

The English are often accused (by many sides) of being arrogant and I think that here they may have a point. Football style celebrations when scoring and some of the stuff at the 2011 World Cup leaves us open to fair criticism.

But we’re not alone – the player who wrote ‘My Grand Slam Season’ wasn’t English, it wasn’t an English side that refused to send a team to celebrate the Fiji RFU Centenary (despite living quite close) and we didn’t put out a weak side against Japan on the assumption that it was an easy victory.

Also it wasn’t an Englishman who claimed to be the first ‘true’ World Champions after the third world cup final (obviously it couldn’t  have been – but it must have rankled a bit in Auckland and Sydney)

The team I played for weren’t considered arrogant when we took to the pitch – but we faced a particular level of ferocity when we played in Wales because we were English and indeed in the West Country because we came from London. You can’t win can you? – although, as it happened, we did more often than not in fact!

It’s not going to change at any level for English sides and that’s what makes it so bloody funny when we occasionally win – other teams hate it because they always expect to come out on top – especially when playing at their home ground.

I can’t finish without talking about ‘Sweet Chariot’ – how the fuck did an American Negro spiritual song become the English rugby anthem?

Admittedly it has been sung at rugby clubs for years – the reason being that although it doesn’t have any dirty words it is accompanied by plenty of rude gestures.

It actually has bugger all to do with England rugby – if you wanted to have a song with actions you’d be better off choosing YMCA – which has a much better melody as well!

It doesn’t stack up against ‘Flower of Scotland’ ‘Ireland’s Call’ or ‘Danny Boy’ and certainly won’t make the hairs stand up (except maybe for Jedward) like ‘Bread of Heaven’ or ‘Men of Harlech’.

To be honest it isn’t even as good as ‘Waltzing Matilda’

Personally I’d vote for ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ or ‘Jerusalem’ but then I’m tone deaf anyway.

 

 

 

 

About David Shute

Shutey’s obsession with all things rugby far exceeds his ability on the pitch during his playing days as his blog (www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com) certainly testifies.
He lives in England and can be caustic about the progress of his team since his mate Clive resigned – this is reflected in his writing about the state of Northern Hemisphere rugby. You can follow Shutey on twitter but only if you seriously have nothing better to do.

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