Every team had one - the nutter who sorted out the little skirmishes that inevitably broke out around the contact area. It was usually done on the blind side of the ref, and it wasn't nice. The ubiquitous camera's put a stop to it at international level today, and the imposed decency has filtered down. I'm a touch ashamed that it was usually to yours truly that this unsavoury duty fell during my rugby career. I'm not proud of it. All this stuff came to mind by the juxtaposition of attending an election count in Welshpool today and meeting an old friend, Murray Owen, who is currently President of Newtown RUFC tonight. When I returned to play for Welshpool in the later part of my rugby career, Newtown were the biggest enemy of all. This post is about how I coped with being the 'enforcer' when playing against friends - and its relevance to politics.
The only way was to suspend friendship for the duration of the game. From the moment I left the dressing room, until the final whistle blew, Murray my friend became Murray my enemy. And then he was my friend again. No point in asking him about his family or how the business was going, or what he fancied to drink, when stamping on his toes at a lineout. Its the same with politics. When I'm at the count, its no good trying to have a chat with the Lib Dems. It would only be pretence on both sides. For the duration of the count its more straight forward to look on each other as enemies. When the count is over, normal relations can be resumed. I've learned that the only alternative to this rather brutal demarcation is a longer term breakdown in friendly relations.
That's the thing about sport. It teaches you so much about life.