By Try and Penalty
Ah, the rugby season. A tiring time for players,
parents and fans alike. As we are usually rather 'out of it' at
most times, the opportunity to 'get with it' arose two weeks back
on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.
some colourful Bradby fashions at the first leg of the Bradby in
Colombo was Mirror photographer Dunstan Wickremaratne
Thursday we both had been informed that we were 'going to the Bradby',
courtesy of a few friends and family members who thought we needed
to 'live a little'. So we decided to study the behavioral aspects
of the people at the Bradby. One of us was to sit among 'Hundreds'
while the other was awarded tickets at the Grandstand.
journalist (known hereafter as GS) was blessed with a lovely blue
seat while the Hundred (known hereafter as 100) had to be content
with a rough piece of cement to sit upon! (This resulted in a fight
at the Times office the following Monday, but that is another story!)
The first observation
made was that many fans wear identical clothing. Colour combinations
are limited, since fans tend to concentrate mainly on mixtures of
the primary colours. Either blue with yellow (oops, gold) or a striped
mixture of red, yellow and blue.
was the number of infants sporting clothing identical to their parents
- an ideally embarrassing situation. There were even little girls
proudly sporting short hair, a boys school T-shirt and matching
Once the game
got under way GS with her 'Bradby-knowledge-zero-friends' had stumbled
upon a lovely booklet that had been published specifically to celebrate
the grand occasion.
various tit bits on the 'Bradbys' of days of yore, and highly personalized
caricatures of the players themselves. This in turn contributed
much to the evening's entertainment.
At the end
of twenty minutes we had learned that there are three methods of
scoring marks (oops points!). The try, a goal and a penalty. These
are in turn awarded three, five and seven points respectively. We
were also informed that a book named 'Rugby for the Dumbest of the
Dumb' was also available at a popular book store, but due to the
high demand of the season, copies were limited. We had to be happy
with the information torn out of knowledgeable fans.
100 did not
have it easy, since the crowd she was with comprised of fully-fledged
rugby enthusiasts who just couldn't comprehend the stupid questions
she asked. GS on the other hand took on a more subtle approach.
Eavesdropping on conversations taking place behind, beside and in
front of her! Effective to say the least!
Though we didn't
learn much of the game's jargon, except for the fact that players
forming a tight bunch were dubbed 'the scrum', the language of fans
added much colour to the proceedings. Amongst the more original
statements was "Machang Hippo enava!" which roughly translated
would mean, "Grease, the Hippopotamus is behind you!"
or even "Hora-referee send him home" (Hora; noun, meaning
thief or robber).
In the Grandstand
the yells were slightly different and usually began with "What
the ******** is that ****** up to! Now in the good old days, when
Tom, Dick and Harry and I used to play we ......", or when
the spectators would feel a little less enthusiastic, "Who
the ****** taught them to play!"
were unable to comprehend for a long period of time was the fact
that suddenly all the spectators would stand up and make gurgling
noises. As we had been specifically asked to mingle, we too stood
up and made gurgling noises much to our discomfort and the crowd's
At the entrance,
we were presented with a Rugby Ball shaped cardboard with the school
songs boldly stated. Must be so we can join in the singing, we thought
- only problem being that the music was not printed!
There was also
a constant rephrasing of 'moral support' songs of one school (no
doubt painstakingly composed) and singing of deformed versions of
it, thus provoking the rival camp to do the same. And when one team
looked to emerge victorious the vanquished fans would try to slink
away to the background, but were immediately brought to attention
again with, "Truly Machang, I think our Basketball Team would
have able to crush them!"
Our study completed
we made our way back. The long drawn out conclusion being that since
this is a rough game that can be completed in a relatively short
period of time, it is much more interesting than most other games
that drag on for five days. So be it a rough cement step or a Grandstand
comfy blue chair, count us in next year too!