Touch, Pause, Engage! Exploring the heart of South African Rugby, by Liz McGregor
Liz McGregor is most recently the author of Touch, Pause, Engage! a book which explores the world of South African rugby.
Driving up to Riebeek Kasteel, the trendy little olives-and-wine town in the Swartland, about an hour north of Cape Town by road, I pick up two hitchhikers: a bent, toothless woman who looks about seventy, but says she is the mother of the child with her, who is ten. He too is undersized and vacant-looking. Both have clearly been damaged by the fruit of the vine. The woman talks non-stop, but I can't understand a word because of her thick burr or 'bry'. As we approach the village, there is a signpost to Allesverloren. All is lost. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. I drop mom and son off at Riebeek Kasteel and carry on through the next little village, Riebeek West, to the Alan Zondagh Rugby Performance Centre where the University of Cape Town (UCT) team has been training for the past week. When I arrive, they are gathered in the team room, taking turns to present their research on the various teams they will be taking on in the Varsity Cup, which kicks off in a few weeks. Genteel Bishops accents mingle with harsher Cape Flats vowels. It's my first dip into what will become a very familiar setting, and what strikes me first and most strongly is the extreme physicality of it. It's very, very hot - more than 30 degrees - and the smell is of sweat and testosterone, gamey but not unpleasant. There is an abundance of prime youthful flesh on show. The 40-odd boys are dressed minimally, in shorts and sleeveless 'wife-beater' vests, bare feet up on tables and spare chairs. Muscles bulge from exposed calves and arms. They are, I suppose, lounging, although that doesn't capture their arrested alertness, which is more like big cats biding their time under a shaded tree, anticipating their next kill. The following morning sees their first big match of 2010, a warm-up against a Stormers side, who have driven up from Cape Town. In the UCT team room, the boys are gathered. There is no lounging of any kind now. Adrenaline gives an edgy tang to yesterday's eau de testosterone. Murray Mexted, the driving force in many great All Blacks teams of the eighties, is handing out the jerseys. In his late fifties, he is tall, tanned and rangy. Well-exercised biceps emerge from a sleeveless vest. His grey hair is thick and well cut. There are copper bangles on his arms: surfer meets rugger bugger. He has a practical message for the boys: 'Know yourself. If a player plays very well one week and badly the next, it is because he doesn't understand himself. There are two types in this room.' He picks up a marker pen and writes them down on the whiteboard: (...)
This is an excerpt from the book: Touch, Pause, Engage! Exploring the heart of South African Rugby, by Liz McGregor.
Title: Touch, Pause, Engage!
Subtitle: Exploring the heart of South African Rugby
Author: Liz McGregor
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa 2011
ISBN 9781868423095 / ISBN 978-1-86842-309-5
Softcover, 15x23 cm, 276 pages
McGregor, Liz im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Touch, Pause, Engage! takes the reader on a journey to the heart of South African rugby.
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