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Tena koe, greetings,

My Take on Team Sports


I was a lousy rugby player at school.  I wasn’t small or unfit or lacking interest in the game, but I was clumsy with balls, I couldn’t read the play and, frankly, I was a bit of a sook.


So I began reading plays of another sort and discovered an interest in theatre, which has been my team sport for the past 40 years.  Wait, did I say theatre is ‘team sport?’  Do I dare compare poncing around on stage with the grand arena of the footie ground?  Can putting on a play ever match the intensity, the vision and the grandeur of a test match or the holy of holies, the Rugby World Cup?


Well, I think rugby and theatre have a lot in common.  Here’s a go at it...



The scrum.  The crucible of battle, demanding precision, teamwork, subtlety and an overwhelming desire to win.

The fight scene, the dance sequence.  Demanding absolute precision (stage swords can be nasty), complete trust in your team and a passion for perfection.

The lineout.  No matter how much you practise, the ball might go anywhere - expect the unexpected.

The carefully scripted scene.  No matter how much you practise, you’ll get the occasional missed entry, falling scenery, lost prop or unpredictable actor - expect the unexpected.

A slick backline move.  Timing is everything, quick hands, fast feet, smooth off-loads and complete concentration.

A slick comedy scene.  Timing is everything, quick delivery of lines, fast cues, knowing when to pause, when to deliver.  Complete concentration.

A hard tackle.  You’re stopped in your tracks, a bit dazed but you know you’ve got to get up and carry on – somehow.

A mind blank - either your own or the other actor.  You can’t remember your next line, or any other line, the audience is waiting, you’re frozen like a possum in the headlights.  You know you’ve got to get up and carry on - somehow.

Running for 80 minutes.  You need to be fit. You’re tired by half time, running on empty after 70 minutes and knackered at the final whistle.

Playing a Shakespeare tragedy or a big musical - think of Les Miserables or The Lion King.  You need to be fit.  You’re moving, dancing, singing, fighting, speaking, thinking, staying focussed and in character - for hours.  You’re knackered at the final curtain.

The dropped ball, the missed tackle.  You can’t go back and pick it up, your opponent speeds on leaving you and your mistake wide open for all to see.

The lost line or missed cue.  You can’t go back and retrieve it, but you can’t go on either.  Your mistake is wide open for all to see.  

The crowd goes wild - or just goes.  They either love you or despise you - there’s seldom any middle ground, and perhaps it’s better that way - after all, who wants to be mediocre.

The crowd goes wild - or just goes.  You’ve either got a raging success or a flop, you’re either on top of the world or you’re playing to empty seats.  There’s only one thing worse, and that’s playing to an audience of half a dozen - then you, and they, feel really mediocre.

Infringements and penalties.  The “Richie McCaw walk of shame” as you trudge to the sin bin for committing a stupid offence. Whether it’s brain fade or momentary malice, you can’t avoid that sinking feeling of letting your mates down.

That sinking feeling of letting your mates down when you’re not as prepared as you should be, or you’re not focused, or you’re upstaging somebody and making their performance look bad - whether it’s brain fade or momentary malice.

Scoring a try.  That sweet moment of triumph.

A burst of applause, a roar of laughter that you know is just for you.  That sweet moment of triumph.


The comparison isn’t just with rugby, the same can be said for any team sport and the truth is, I celebrate all team activities - they bring out the best in us.


This term we have celebrated many team sports at Wakefield School, including theatre.  I congratulate the Totara team staff and students on their production, Oh the Places You’ll Go! which opened last night.  If you haven’t seen it I encourage you to come along this evening and be impressed.  Think of it as another game of rugby.


Peter Verstappen

Your comments are welcome:




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