Booze, Abuse and Playing Blues
WILL SMITH tells us all about how the Blues are importing foreign Talent these days
There’s now less than one month to go. The squad is settling into more of a rhythm and things are looking positive. Three back-to-back wins against strong opposition gives some cause for confidence, but experienced heads know better than to assume anything before the full 80 minutes are up on the 6th December.
The Varsity campaign is an arduous one, new to some and familiar to others, but every year features some similar fixtures. The club’s multiculturalism is one such feature, which also testifies to its history and quality. The influx of Australians (and the odd New Zealander) in recent years, for instance, generally provides a solid Asia-Pacific base on which to build a squad. With Southern Hemisphere rugby’s reputation for talent and skill, expectations swirl around these additions, all of whom tend to add a great deal to the strength of the side.
The variety of nationalities within the team do more than bolster it, of course, and occasionally make for diplomatically sensitive situations, as things are lost in translation between players, or certain cultural differences are adjusted for.
One foreign addition is the ex-Loughborough winger, turned centre, turned fly half, who has abandoned his own name in favour of ‘Wilko’ (after 2003 world cup winner Jonny Wilkinson). The self-proclaimed ‘funniest man in the squad’ rates his own looks at 8.2/10 (although it’s unclear whether these two statements are meant to be interlinked) and purports to be from legendary Danish Viking lineage. One example of the need for cultural sensitivity within the squad comes from his pre-season roommate, who states that this player insists that it’s perfectly acceptable within Danish culture to collect ominous, used tissues on his bedside table, but considers it borderline sacrilegious to ask what they were used for, or worse still, to dispose of them.
Another example comes in the form of the Australian MBA student and part-time bodybuilder who currently fills the position of centre. He assures the rest of the team that his penchant for younger women is completely socially acceptable where he’s from and that the girl’s school uniform, which he keeps in his wardrobe, belongs to one of his friends. Regardless of the truth, perception is a powerful thing, and can, as in this instance, lead to a person’s actions being regarded as either normal or sleazy. Thankfully, we have gotten to know this player much better throughout the season. Therefore, it’s now possible to say, without uncertainty, that his intentions remain entirely un-sleazy, and that he almost never buys two bottles of champagne for girls he wants to bring home from Life before they can tell their friends, after Captain’s Cocktails, last Thursday.
A final example I’d like to use consists of an ex-Dartmouth College, second row addition to the squad. While many may have heard him on the rugby pitch, under a kick-off, hollering his own name to signify that he’s going to catch the ball, many may not know that this is not the only place where he enjoys shouting his own name… If you catch my drift. This cheeky American maintains that this is a normal practice for Dartmouth graduates, which made for an especially awkward post-clubbing situation last week, when he went home with another girl who had recently graduated from the same institution. Indeed, one unfortunate teammate who happened to have overheard their raucous crescendo has been severely limited in his ability to do any kick-off training since then.
Multiculturalism in the rugby team, then, might be seen to have its strengths and its weaknesses. It brings in strong players but, also, involves a certain amount of adjusting to differing cultural norms. Regardless, it’s a consistent fixture of Cambridge University Rugby, and looks to be here to stay.