I don’t really understand the appeal of rugby union. I much prefer league myself. While union cherishes its traditions and proudly asserts itself as a gentleman’s game, I’ve never found a tertiary education to be that sexy in a sportsman.
However I attended a rugby union match on the weekend and might have to reconsider my position. It was the gay state of origin held at Rose Bay, with the Sydney Convicts and Brisbane Hustlers vying for the Purchas Cup. (It looks a bit like Royal Selangor.)
It’s not often that the gay scene provides an atmosphere of manly physical endeavour (a visit to Headquarters doesn’t count, no matter how much you exert yourself), but this had all the ingredients: two determined teams, an enthusiastic crowd, a sausage sizzle, and beer.
Amid cries of Go son!, Heads up! and Hang tough boys!, the thick-thighed combatants rucked and mauled (still not quite sure what the difference is) and, in the case of the Convicts, scored some pretty impressive tries. I felt positively butch. But then half-time came along. And so did the dreaded drag microphone.
Anyone who has frequented a gay venue will be acquainted with the drag microphone, which pops up everywhere and magically makes every person speaking into it sound exactly the same -“ a high-pitched harridan spouting second-rate double entendres. No offence to the drag in question, but her voice instantly shattered the illusion. I half-expected her to announce a round of Spin the Willy.
Then there was full-time, upon which a DJ launched into a set of wretched dance pap, including what is possibly the nadir of gay music -“ a cover version of It’s Raining Men. Was this compulsory? Must there be a drag queen? Can’t we have just one event that isn’t drenched in the cheap perfume of poofter bars?
But back to the game. The Hustlers were outclassed 29-3 by the more experienced Convicts. Nevertheless, there was an overwhelming sense of good humour. Taking advantage of this, I infiltrated the Hustler ranks, which maybe wasn’t such a wise idea. Perhaps it was the beer, or just a sudden rush of blood, but I believe I told the captain, Nunzio Lo Castro, that he had the best legs I’d ever seen. And to Jayce Penola, the Hustlers’ massive tight head prop, I’m sorry for stalking you with my digital camera.
You can take the queen out of Darlinghurst-¦