This became abundantly clear – even though he has repeatedly stressed that he is no student of the 15-man game that drives many grown men to distraction – as the Lions ground out a maiden victory over the Western Force in Perth. But then there were other things of equal import to draw his attention away from the game in progress.
There was the South African archery championship in live action just down the road and the Silent One’s long-distance overseeing of the braai which was to follow the game. The Silent One has an equally long-distance love affair with archers and delights in calling them “toxopholites” to the consternation of a fair number of the regulars.
“I shall make sure that I take a turn tomorrow and watch some of it,” he said to the crowd of what he almost certainly privately considered sporting philistines. “There is far more to the sport than you would imagine.”
Suffice it to say, that with the Russian Grand Prix to be run in Sochi, the following afternoon, there was not an instant stampede of volunteers ready to accept the Silent One’s tacit invitation to join him. And although he claims to support the Lions, it must also be confessed that he saw very little of the action in Western Australia as he went about his supervisory duties and kept the subject of archery on the back-burner with references to “the good old English longbow” which had won many a major battle in the days long before a Colt 45 proved fairly convincingly that in conflict, it would invariably beat four aces.
More was the pity, for the Lions were frustrated from producing the kind of open running rugby that has become their hallmark by a combination of fierce defence by the Force and, as one viewer offered “some newly-defined interpretations of the offside line”.
It was a battle which was really only settled by a late individualistic try after the hooter from flyhalf Elton Jantjies saw the Lions claim a 24- 15 victory and a bonus point for scoring three clear tries. Sufficient to say the braai had a celebratory atmosphere about it, but as the punters drifted off, the Silent One again extended the offer of accompanying him to watch the archery with an open-ended “see you tomorrow” before he left.
And true to his word, he arrived, dogs in tow, as the reconstituted Formula One machines revved up for the lights to change for the start of the race fresh from watching the toxopholites. From the first moment, the Silent One’s older dog barked his displeasure at the cacophony of sound by setting a chorus of frenzied barking. The new arrival to the Silent One’s menagerie merely curled up with studied indifference.
“Funny that,” he remarked. “He doesn’t usually bark at cars. I wonder what he would make of rugby?”