My Love of Rugby

The rugby world cup is on and apart from the glorious memes that have been brought by the chaos of the French team, the typhoon and the of course the various online communities that I am participate in have all reminded me why I love this game.

Now I always claim that cricket is my second religion, but rugby without a doubt is my #1 sport. It’s the sport that I spent a decade going to every match in Durban to see my [Natal] Sharks constantly lose by narrow margins, saw the magnificent Jonah Lomu and an opportunity to see every international team. I can still remember the daring runs of Henry Honiball as he caught the ball on our 10m line from a clearance and dart across the field, zig-zagging through the field about to score only to be tackled last minute. Or seeing Ollie la Roux give a massive heave to the scrum as we [the Sharks] were looking to set up the attack on the blindside. Or how about Jonah sprinting down the opposite by-line and just being in utter awe of this man and how feeble everyone else seemed to the manner he played.

I got to meet so many players, as the Sharks back then, had many players with family involved with farming. Thus, with my Dad having an agri-brokerage, many of them would come to the office to learn or become a client. There isn’t a player from 1997-2005 that I haven’t met that played for the Sharks. I was able to meet my heroes all the time.

…cricket is my second religion, but rugby without a doubt is my #1 sport

What was odd, is that I never played rugby for my school in South Africa, but at home I was either playing cricket or had a rugby ball recreating the moments for the game. Football was there, but it has never been my passion sport. I love Tottenham, but I would rather see the Sharks lift the Super Rugby than watch Spurs win the Champions League, even if I know more about Tottenham right now than the Sharks. It’s true.

Recently I’ve been chatting to non-rugby fans about the sport and I know that I still smile when I’m explaining the sport to them or what’s going on in the world cup. Seriously everyone should watch the Quarter-Finals this weekend, especially with Japan vs South Africa which South Africa, is no doubt the bad guys. Either they knock-out the incredible hosts who have class beyond class or become the team that lost to Japan twice in a row at the World Cup. Japan have been playing some of the classiest rugby this tournament and where

There’s Wales vs France, with Wales being France’s Australia and the French team, being…well French. This is a good point to point out that my favourite player of all time is Thierry Dusautoir, the former French captain. I never saw play in the flesh unfortunately, but anytime I saw that the French team was playing, I made sure that I could at least watch the extended highlights. I model my modest school playing career on him and Richie McCaw. Dusautoir is the embodiment of rugby in mind. He went to university and got a degree as a chemical engineer. He was incredibly polite on and off the pitch. He was a tackle monster for Les Blues racking up record 38 tackles (and he scored France’s try) in the 2011 final against New Zealand, where I still think Craig Joubert was affected by the home crowd and not calling some of the blatant off-sides by the All-Blacks. He still had the grace on pitch to just get on with the game and show the entire world what rugby is about. Playing hard, with respect for the opposition and the referee. His performance in that game probably sealed world player of the year, even if other players won more trophies that year, no one has got close to replicating a performance of the pitch that Dusautoir displayed that night. Thinking about the few times that I have “fan-girled” have involved Christine Amanpour, meeting God (aka Sachin Tendulkar) & the rest of the Indian team and whenever I get to meet a Springbok. However, I have no clue what will happen if I ever see Dusautoir in the flesh. I only imagine is that I lose the ability to speak.

Alright enough about the great man, let’s continue with the France Wales game. Wales should win, but honestly is the French team can play like Freddie Michalak (Michalak is one of my favourite players, also French, as he played for the Sharks and embodies French rugby to a tee! He was decent player, not bad but acceptable at this level of rugby. However, for around 10 minutes a game he was world class. His footwork, kicking, ability to spot a pass was second to none. He was France. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he would return to normal as though he had shown the world what he could do and that was it. And yes, that is a very biased look back on him, but I don’t care. He helped us win the Currie Cup. Ummm back to the French team) does for 10 minutes a game for say more than 30 minutes, they could cause an upset; even if the captain doesn’t know he is the captain (yes, that’s not a joke. It happened)

I have no clue what will happen if I ever see Dusautoir in the flesh. I only imagine is that I lose the ability to speak.

England are playing Australia which should be a comfortable win for the English in my opinion. Any chance of Australia winning relies on the magic of Beale and their captain Michael Hooper playing the perfect game in the breakdown. While they can do so, they will face an England squad who could go on and win the tournament, if they don’t play the All-Blacks in the semi-final (I can’t see Eddie Jones going past the Kiwi’s). Why? The England team can and would take the game to the All-Blacks, even if they didn’t have Eddie Jones as the coach. However, even though Owen Farrell is the one of the many star players of the England squad, it’s his temperament and ability to manage the game that will determine how far England go in the tournament.

Honestly, I could go on and on. Even if I don’t have a broad knowledge of the sport now. However, if you stuck on Uruguayan second division amateur rugby in front of, I’ll probably watch the entire game. I don’t care how skilful the game is or how big the tackles are. I love the sport.

Grasping Air

I’ve always been a dreamer
You would describe me as ridiculous
And I would scoff at your tone as preposterous
All the fun and games, nothing wrong with our demeanour

The world is your oyster
That is what I was told
More a tale for the old
As far as I can tell, there’s not even a pot to stir

I guess it’s time to set up shop
Time to get dirty and a little bit flirty
Plenty of life yet, I’m not even thirty
There’s no reason for my dreams to be cropped.  

My name may not touch the sky
That’s not a reason to fret
Even if I have a few regrets
There’s always going to be me, myself and I

Returning Home

My day at New Hall

 After being made redundant and spending so many years in the UK and to be honest, a bit lost, I decided to call my school and see if there was an opportunity to go work there and if not, could I just visit it. Turns out there was a role available, but they were also willing to have a look at my CV and see if they could connect me to some jobs closer in to London.

Now my old school is trying to establish it’s “Boys Network” only after 375 years after its foundation; but, the network of Old Fish (I refuse to use the other name, it’s so wannabe-esque) is very loose.

…love, love of God and our neighbour

The Saint Augustine Rule

Now it’s no secret why I chose to go to New Hall. I decided that this was my school, because of the Avenue. The Avenue is the historic driveway to the school which has trees either side of it. Why does my school have this amazing road? It’s only a former palace for King Henry VIII. So, as I drove into the school, I noticed that no one was behind and decided to jump out of the car, engine still running and grab a picture. Why? Mate, I LOVE that drive. I always smile when I remember Nuno sliding on the ice and falling over with Antoine & Harry losing their minds laughing as we made a dash to Sainsbury’s in the snow. Or taking a walk in autumn when leaves change colour. Or in the Spring walking and smelling the flowers while avoiding revision for exams. Or in the summer, when Alex and I grabbed some cider and had a walk down the drive just chatting about life and what was to come when our exam results rolled in.

Before I notice that there is no one is behind me
After I realised that I could get out of the car and get a better photo

Now the school has a special place in my heart for another reason. It was my home for the longest period of time in the UK (if we exclude my Ba’s address). It’s were I met my best friends, had some of my best memories and did a whole lot stupid shit (most which I dare not repeat online).

It was weird entering the school and needing to wait for Dom Walmsley, a kid a couple of years below me in the boarding house, as I needed a guide to show me around because I don’t have a background check. It was odd, because a few things had been moved around the Ambilake Room (sp definitely needs to be checked, but that’s how it’s sounds spelt out. Fun fact, the room prior to be reception was used to walk around in the winter for exercise). The Griffin/Dragon (an ongoing debate, though I’m on team dragon at the moment. It makes more sense because of Henry VIII’s Coat of Arms) has been moved indoors.

Just grew up in the palace

I saw Dom, so instantly I told him to put his hands away and gave him a hug. You see, growing up in Campion meant even if you weren’t great friends or even friends at all, there is a strong sense of trust between all of us. There aren’t many people I wouldn’t want to see again or catch up with, I grew up with them. Everyone is like a relative.

So we started off with a quick chat about the role, spent most of the time looking at my CV, plus Dom had scoured the Almuni network and found some people for me to get in touch with. With the formalities over and done with, we moved onto the more exciting part. Lunch! Now, my school had a decent lunch when I went there, it got boring after a while; there was enough choice to be satisfied.

A tour! (even if I pretty much know the school inside-out: tends to happen after living there for four years).

The Tour

I found out that the willow tree I planted has been moved, instead they have planted more trees in the area and there’s now a farm. A fucking farm. I went to a posh school, a privilege that I am thankful to my parents for, but the concept of a farm is what I would call peak New Hall. I mean, it’s a farm. There are chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, goats, sheep and pigs! In the Campion House I grew up in, I willing to bet any money someone would have been attacked by a goose.

The pigs!

We then wondered around the back of the pitches where I will never forget some of the most gruesome training I had to deal with Mr Briggs or playing matches in the fog/rain/sleet. The standout one, was doing three laps of the pitches with a partner carrying a 15kg bag at the end of training. Not the worst, until Mr Briggs saw Kelvin walking and ordered all of us to continue running and complete an extra lap!

Pass the Sixth Former’s café (I know, a café!), we went into the Sixth Form centre where I got to catch up with Mr Alderson and Mrs Innes; whom upon meeting me asked me the most important question: who am I dating and if not, why not? You see Mrs Innes, knows me and the rest of the family far too well sometimes. However, the reason I still have affinity to the school is due to connections like this across the school. We discussed other things as well, but that’s for us to know and you to speculate (honestly, nothing to interesting, just a regular catch up).

We then headed to Radcliffe to see if Mrs McGlynn was around, she wasn’t but Mr Crosby was around! Mr Crosby is my old Year 11 tutor, who I will say my class constantly harass. I mean we were teenage boys who had a bit too much fun! In Year 10, we hid Mr Parkinson’s laptop! We weren’t exactly the best set of behaving children. Mr Crosby had a meeting to attend, thus I agreed to come back and give a speech at registration to his current class.

The goats are dicks apparently

We then had a walk towards the Chapel where we bumped into Dr Thomas, my old physics & astronomy teacher, then into the new historical/heritage room. There is still no Chaplaincy board… I digress, but that is where I bumped into Mrs McGlynn and we had a lovely little chat before she returned to the Year 7’s who were going to get an etiquette lesson (I actually still remember getting some etiquette lessons, something I use when I need to look posh). We then headed into the archives, which while not fully open, was one of the few areas of the school I had never been to, might be worth going back if I can full access.

That’s me, hopefully not the only time I walk down the aisle with a girl!

We then headed back to see Mr Crosby’s class and gave them an impromptu speech about my time at school and all the dumb things I did, what the reality of the future may be and remember to have some fun; the opportunities to muck about and make mistakes will be easier to fix now than several years down the line. Also told them to listen to Mr Crosby, but prior to him coming into the room, I told the class all the pranks we pulled! Sorry Mr Crosby?

We then headed to catch Mr Bickersteth and ended up bumping into Mr Sidwell, my old housemaster. We had a little catch up before needing to part ways as Mr Sidwell had a meeting to attend.

Dom took me to the astro where the Campion legends of Thursday night football were made. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities to recreate some old memories. We then headed to the nursery which is a brand new part of the school, but not much to see to be honest.

The pitch of legends

Finally, we went to the Nun’s graveyard, because it’s one of the best little hideouts in the school. It’s important to remember that we are indebt to those who came before us and that simple message of the St. Augustine which is the basis of the school ethos: “…love, love of God and our neighbour”.

After a quick prayer, we headed back and had a chat and said my goodbyes to Dom. On the way out I got a bit emotional, as the school has provided me with so much to be grateful. Did I have the best start in life? It’s hard to know, but I’m sure it’s pretty damn close to being it.

The old cedar tree by the walled garden

Fobalicious

Now don’t ask me what brought me to do this, but I decided to share one of my online dating profiles with reddit. Then I decided to talk about it on the podcast and now I’m writing about it.

Now let me say, that some of the people were harsh as fuck. Held nothing back and others were a bit more supportive. The vast majority said nothing at all (if all 400+ views are unique), but that’s cool. Most people online are just lurkers.

don’t ask me what brought me to do this

Something I say far too often

While all the comments were, in the end of the day, fine. One thing that stood out to me was being called Fobby or told that I look like a Fob. Which, if anyone grew up with me, would find hilarious. Especially how patriotic I was as a child to my beloved England and British heritage.

However, I don’t mind being called a FOB. What concerned me was the negative connotations with the term. No one says it with a positive attitude. It’s a put down. It’s an intra-ethnic division. It’s not just that there’s a difference in culture, but that one is more superior. Now, if you say: No, Hanik that’s not what I mean when I refer to someone as FOB, rather I mean it’s someone who is from the motherland. Then why not say that? FOB isn’t a reclaimed term and you may say that you are trying to reclaim it. However, unless you are Fresh Off the Boat; it’s not your responsibility or right to claim. Heck it’s not even my right to claim, after being called one.

How do you respond to being called a FOB? I would, in real life, tell the other person to stop being a wanker. I might also just shrug it off and not let the person get to me, honestly, I’m too sure how I would react. Just being weirded out by the term.

Otherwise, look for some changes coming to the blog. As you may be aware, I’m on a podcast and I’ve decided to make a page for the blog; beyond social media. It will just explain the basis of Chai Noon and a quick bio of Kiran and maybe a photo if he adds one.

Latest episode where we talk about dating:

Scared by rice is an understatement