8th October 2020

A line of well past their prime rugby football players, inflamed by excessive alcohol and encouraged by the basest of pack mentalities, approach, surround, then finally engulf one of the teams female followers, whom to the utter amazement of the outsider begins, in the comparative privacy afforded by the  twenty or thirty bodies surrounding, to performs the most immodest of acts with an abandon suited more to the employee of a bordello than an officially invited and often highborn guest in a gentleman’s sporting club. The origin of this strange and somewhat bizarre behavior is somehow linked to the Zulu wars of the eighteen nineties, the line of over the hill ‘warriors’ supposedly representing a Zulu Impi performing their preferred method of attack, the aptly named ‘horns of the buffalo’ strategy. This analogy is acknowledged more or less by the strange haunting  ditty chanted to accompany the event, the aptly named ‘Zulu warrior’ chorus.

I relate this anecdote for two purposes, firstly to indicate my considered opinion that most boys who continue to play competitive games into adulthood rarely if ever pass beyond adolescence intellectually, and secondly that the moral behavior of a group or fraternity will invariably plummet to the lowest common denominator. My experience of any counterpart female exploit is entirely non-existent bar the usual hearsay, which to be honest does not seem to reflect much better upon the participants.

Sports, games, competitions are in themselves strange birds, relying as they do upon public participation and spectatorship yet ever having a certain air of secrecy about the inner workings, administration, and rules, written and unwritten. I participated at a reasonable amateur level in three well recognized activities and at a professional level in two, three if Rugby had become a professional sport but a few years earlier. Never in all those years did I ever comprehend all of the intricacies, the obvious and hidden agendas, the intrigue, the political machinations of but a one.

Espionage was for centuries known as the ‘great game’ and was the special province of the old Etonian or Harrovian, the Oxford and Cambridge graduate. Imagine that!

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