Rat­her our im­pis than the Ma­o­ri Big Brag

A pi­ty we didn’t ha­ve a cou­ple in the te­am

Die Burger - - Monduitspoel - P­ho­to: DEAAN VIVIER


f I had to choo­se be­t­ween a Ma­o­ri Big Brag and Zu­lu war­ri­ors wa­ving their as­se­gais, I’d rat­her ha­ve the im­pis on my si­de any day.

One of our guys sprang in­to the news a­gain at Lof­tus Vers­feld w­hen, car­ried a­way by the ro­ar of the 50 000 strong cro­wd, he chal­len­ged All Black cap­tain Kie­ran Re­ad fa­ce to fa­ce, man teen­oor man, be­fo­re the test ma­tch star­ted. Re­ad des­cri­bed the en­coun­ter as “bi­zar­re” and said it ma­de him laugh.

I’ll tell him w­hat would ma­ke him laugh. Fa­cing his own te­am jum­ping a­round li­ke clock­work o­ran­ges, sticking their ton­gues out li­ke hu­man cha­me­le­ons and flut­te­ring their hands o­ver their pri­va­te parts.

All the whi­le grun­ting and gro­a­ning with se­ve­re in­di­ge­s­ti­on. Yet op­po­sing te­ams ha­ve to wa­tch them go through t­his cha- ra­de e­very ti­me they play a­gainst the boys from Dee­pest Do­wn Un­der who ha­ven’t yet seen (or as we so­meti­mes say, haak’ed on to) the jo­ke.

I was sur­pri­sed to le­arn t­his im­pi ca­me from Ca­pe To­wn, which is not nor­mal­ly ho­me to Zu­lu war­ri­ors, and that his na­me was Al­fon­so Fran­ke, al­so not ty­pi­cal of mo­re con­ven­ti­o­nal Zu­lu ge­ne­a­lo­gy. But he ma­de up for it with ent­hu­si­asm. Af­ter pro­vo­king Re­ad in­to ner­vous laug­h­ter, he re­tur­ned to his two ma­tes, rested on one knee and bran­dis­hed his as­se­gai at his coun­try’s e­ne­mies. T­hen he drew his hand a­cross his thro­at.

The laug­h­ter in the All Black camp sub­si­ded. They mig­ht ha­ve been e­ven less san­gui­ne had they kno­wn the trans­la­ted words of the “Im­pi” song being play­ed o­ver the loudspea­kers: “Ho­pe­less bat­ta­li­on des­ti­ned to die, bro­ken by the ben­ders of kings.”

New Ze­a­lan­ders bend to a queen, not a king, but they sport her coun­try’s flag on their own, so they would ha­ve got the ge­ne­ral pic­tu­re.

In spi­te of that we still ma­na­ged to lo­se. E­ver­yo­ne knows jum­per.

Hig­her than a ha­ka:

An im­pi shows his pro­wess as a li­ne-out

that the Boks are wor­ld ex­perts at sna­t­ching de­fe­at from the jaws of vic­to­ry, but t­his de­man­ded a spe­ci­al ef­fort. With un­der 10 mi­nu­tes to go and 12 points a­he­ad, no one thoug­ht for a mo­ment New Ze­a­land would ha­ve ti­me to sco­re two con­ver­ted tries.

Co­ach Ras­sie Erasmus re­a­li­sed our in­ter­na­ti­o­nal re­pu­ta­ti­on as cho­kers was at s­ta­ke.

He had to pro­ve it was not on­ly South A­fri­ca’s cric­ke­ters who know how to be­ha­ve w­hen vic­to­ry is within e­a­sy grasp. So he quick­ly sent off two of his best play­ers to gi­ve a cou­ple on the bench a chan­ce at seeing w­hat it is li­ke to lo­se w­hat they thoug­ht they had in the bag.

The All Blacks gra­te­ful­ly re­a­li­sed w­hat was hap­pe­ning, and o­bli­ged by kicking the win­ning two points af­ter the fi­nal hoo­t­er had soun­ded.

They we­re so ple­a­sed they e­ven prai­sed Fran­ke for his pas­si­on. W­hat we nee­ded was 15 Al­fon­so Fran­kes who, if ne­ces­sa­ry, could be draf­ted in­to the te­am to wipe the smi­les off op­po­sing fa­ces.

May­be they could oc­ca­si­o­nal­ly draw their hands a­cross their thro­ats in the scrum, to send a sort of des­ti­ned-to-die mes­sa­ge.

So­meti­mes ot­her coun­tries’ te­ams can in­deed be ex­cu­sed for laug­hing. Be­fo­re the Ne­w­lands test a­gainst the En­g­lish in Ju­ne, the im­pis rus­hed out on to the field, slip­ped on the wet grass, and sai­led a­cross on their back­si­des. You can’t main­tain an in­ti­mi­da­ting pre­sen­ce af­ter de­mon­stra­ting t­his u­ni­que way of ma­king an en­tran­ce.

It al­so pre­sa­ged a bad re­sult, 25-10. On that oc­ca­si­on, we didn’t try to lo­se.

It just hap­pe­ned na­tu­ral­ly.

■ john­vscott@mweb.co.za

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