A Super Rugby Rebelution Through The Eyes Of Cormac McCarthy
Dull Autumn light spread long fingers across a precinct more famous for the local code than this one. Out of the shadows cast by yellow streetlights, lit soft by the neon fog of the city, they moved in gliding throngs towards the stadium like moths to porchlight. The wind was not cold or warm, but the people wore scarves and chattered like coyote in a red desert gloaming.
Ponder walked down from the stony chaos of Federation square and followed the fork of that human river to the right, beside the meander of the real one. Those caught in the left side of the current hurtled thrumming to the MCG and the other game in town, the big one.
Do you think we can beat them northerners? he said
I don’t think so. Reckon them light blues be too strong for the local fellers.
You mean you don’t give ‘em no chance?
More chance of ridin’ a three legged dog backwards through El Quento. They ain’t never beaten these boys.
They took their seats on the high side of a ridge, the best place to watch for the riders coming out from the bowels of the stands onto the wide green pasture, lined and flat like some playground of ancients. The teams poured out like ants from a mound to the cannon and song of a festival time. Among the drums and hollers combatants found assigned places.
Then a tall man turned his flint eyes to the ground and took a bounce and then he set himself and knew the target and launched the ball in a slow arc towards a group of pale blue hombres. The first collision shook the grass and the bones of the men. The battle fell into the ebb and flow of a game driven by the sanctity of victory, carried there by the courage of these two hued blue warriors.
The Rebels stayed the course, gaining the better of the Federales with their will and strength. The navy blue beast poured over every ruck and climbed into every tackle as a wild thing chases an answer to the hollow hunger in the pit of their gut. From the violence of the breakdown they hurled the ball through delicate hands, passing the reach of the light blue defence until cracks opened and a young man, English, glided to the corner and gouged a shallow path through the night dew into legend.
They fired to an early lead, dragged there by the spirit of their captain, a Kodiak bear of a man who had seen the summit of the mountain and knew his team belonged there. In the bellow and rumble of the crowd his men knew the revolution was moving toward them like a thunderhead, until a small man with a beard who should know better threw a wild pass to a man who roamed these parts once in a different space and in some other lifetime might have joined the Rebelution himself.
The large man laid the ball down at the foot of the mesa and the groans of local fans spread out on the chill wind like the whispered voices of ancestors long gone before. The half time whistle went and sent the men from the field beneath the shadow of the neon escarpment.
Ponder looked sidelong at his friend.
Quieres una cerveza?
Sí. Podría ayudar a lavar el hedor de los Waratahs y el desierto
Creo que acabo de ver a un travesti
La cerveza sabe a pis coyote
As the whistle shrieked for the second half the collective tension of breath held made the air heavy on the mesa and on the plain below. The contest fell into a colliding rhythm of up and downfield, the shades of blue reaching out and testing one another as a deer might sniff the wind for danger. To break the steady cadence a man would punt the ball high into the neon black under wish of an unsteady hand and a break in fortune to shine on their side of the fight.
Late in the second half a wide pale line stretched out across the canyon floor, set on ending the struggle once and for all. Again and again the vast men went to the rockface, crashing on the Rebel shore like a king tide after a wild storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Their bodies rose up and back against the defensive will of the southerners and their temples of flesh and blood and muscle.
They fixin’ to end this one way or ‘nuther Ponder said
I can see how a man might think that way
They don’t look like they gettin’ tired of it neither
Naw, I reckon they ain’t
Again and again the north men drove into the wall, testing the integrity and courage of a young team without stars well known outside this country. Ten times, fifteen, twenty times they tried and they danced and stumbled from one side of the wide plain to the other. The noise turned a symphony of holler and barrack, consuming the words and sounds of the nightbirds circling in the high dome of light.
At the turnover the Rebels erupted while the flint eyed fullback clenched his jaw and went for touch. The Rebels were in the wind and the Waratahs spent, resting hands on knees and sucking cold air deep into the low places of heaving chests. They grasped the ball and kicked it back, just to see the grey eyes of the fullback latch on to space and run there, casting off the desperate clutches of the north men, knowing the wild freedom of a mountain horse.
And again the sound rose from the people, carrying the flying bodies of the Rebels through the last clutch of bug eyed defenders. They fell close to the line and whirled and jerked like marionettes moved by the Devil himself. The ball fell to the small man with the beard, offering redemption in the eyes of the hordes shouting damnation to the North men. He recieved the ball and spun it ever so in his fingers then he looked at the ball and knew it and felt the crowdshout drench him and he looked to his right and caught the slim thread of navy blue flash and knew there was no chance of failing. He threw the ball and the ball was caught and the line was breached.
At the shrill whistle and after more churning of the wheel of fortune the Rebels prevailed. They leapt into the arms of their comrades and punched at the sky like spent fighters in a canvas world of glory and blood. The gammy shouts of the faithful rose with the light high into the night sky and touched the lowest foothills of heaven itself.
Ponder breathed through teeth and near-shut lips at the achievement and the courage and the size of the victory.
Los Waratahs son una mierda, los pretendientes de color azul pálido. Una gran victoria para los rebeldes. Qué tal una cerveza?
juramento con sangre, que fueron épica
And they all knew the truth to be spoken.