The wooden spoon

Times like these, a man needs a good laugh.

There I was, nursing what turned out to be an unnecessary guilty complex after a Thursday night went wrong. On the sofa, Saturday afternoon – there was no Friday – feeling sorry for myself and being glared at across the room as if my existential dread weren’t already the size of Dion Dublin’s cock. Yes, it’s Homes Under the Hammer. Self-flagellation. Which is probably a doddle for Dion Dublin.

The news comes on the TV. India and Pakistan continue their merry dance-of-the-soon-irradiated. There’s something to do with Hillsborough, like most days. Jeremy Corbyn storms past journalists shouting ‘Good morning and goodbye!’ like a senile Truman Burbank.

Surely the sports news can save us. It can! Look! Women playing rugby!

Rugby is a spectacular shambles at the best of times. Fat imbeciles attempt to get an inexplicably oval ball from one end of the pitch to the other while only throwing it backwards. They smash their pie-loving frames into one another until a referee declares the animalian pile-up immovable enough that it’s time they all stuck their heads between each others legs and heaved and groaned like a slave galley.

It was invented in public schools, you know.

Currently we’re in the middle of the months-long nightmare that is the Six Nations, a competition so risible they let Italy into it a few years ago just so Scotland had competition for the wooden spoon. The Welsh are currently kings of the castle and whenever they do well they sing Delilah by Tom Jones because he’s the best they’ve got. When they lose it’s Stereophonics.

Everything men do, women now have to do too; laudable and unlimited equality that women have rightly demanded, with unfortunate side effects such as men no longer giving up their seat on the Tube unless she’s wearing a badge, and I have my own badge now so you can do one love. Another is that every sport has an increasingly professional female version, with tournaments often played alongside male ones.

And yes, there’s a women’s Six Nations. And it’s fucking absurd.

I can think of nothing so uniquely depressing yet hilarious as women trying to play rugby. The preposterous sight of fat ladies bumping off one another and toppling into piles has to be seen to be believed. Presumably they get paid nothing like the wage of their male counterparts so they don’t have the option of honing themselves into the monstrous slabs of muscle and blubber slamming about in the male version. Instead we’re treated to people who are large and slow, trundling about like bumper cars with breasts.

And such breasts. Some of these women have racks like the Eurotrash reboot wasn’t a dispiriting one-off. I’m led to believe that being smashed in the boob is an agonising experience, with approximately a quarter of the sting of childbirth, or one tenth of the unimaginable suffering of accidentally flicking a testicle. Perhaps this is why they don’t so much crash into each other as fall flailing into each other’s arms like drunks at a racecourse.

Watching them roll around, it’s impossible to tell if this is how they think it’s done or if they just can’t get back up. When they score a try, the look on a player’s face as she plops slowly onto the ball is a cross between the rictus of a defeated Oscar nominee and the ‘maybe it’ll be OK’ wince of someone about to open a child’s nappy.

Rugby provides the pinnacle of the insurmountable problem facing most women’s sport: no matter how you argue it, they’ll never be as good as men at it. Men have an unfair size advantage and there are various reasons involving the word testosterone that an average man will best an average woman at any competitive sport. This is why men and women are separated into their own sporting lanes.

But given that they are, don’t demand we give equal coverage and interest to women’s sport out of a misguided sense of fairness. Women can play whatever the hell they want but I don’t voluntarily watch reserve or youth teams and there’d be outrage if their results were on the news. I’m not watching shit sport and you can’t make me.

Saying that women’s sport is comparatively shit is treasonous in the age of the hashtag, but the idea it’s any kind of spectacle when there are men doing the same thing much better is flatly nonsensical. Put a top male team against a top female team in any sport and and no bookie would touch it with yours. We gamely watch the women’s 100m in the Olympics and to the winner say well done, you’re the fastest woman in the world; we watch the male race and say you’re the fastest human being in the world. You can argue that, with additional coverage of women playing rugby, they’ll get better at it and the game will become more watchable, as in football. But you didn’t actually watch the, gulp, ‘SheBelieves Cup’, did you?

In sports that require far less physical effort, men and women can compete without the natural male strength advantage being an issue. Just like there’s no reason a woman can’t be CEO of some heinous conglomerate or siphoning off funds as president of any reasonable country in the world, there’s no reason a woman can’t be World Snooker Champion or winner of the PGA something or other. (Golf might seem to reward those who hit it hardest, but try playing a round swinging a golf bat as hard as you can and enjoy your card of 160.) Jokes about women drivers aside…see you fuckers, I can do restraint…the physical pressures of a Formula 1 car on the body can’t be a barrier to women if a weedy little scrote like Lewis Hamilton can win at it.

But the more you bring physical strength into sport, the more men will rule and the women’s version will just be silly, and there’s hardly a more physical (ball) sport than rugby. Watch the highlights of England’s 51-12 spanking of Wales, if you dare. Stare in wonder at Welsh defenders slapping and bouncing off English prop Sarah Bern as she meets as much resistance as a bull charging through a corn field. Hear the echoes of the spectators as they realise there are more people on the pitch than in the stands. Listen to the tired voice of the commentator, banished for sins unknown to the international equivalent of Chess Valley v Hemel Hempstead thirds in Hertfordshire & Middlesex Merit Table 4.

Sexist sexist sexist, yes scream it at me all you like, but sport is necessarily about quality of performance and you’re lying to yourself if you think women’s rugby will ever be worth watching when men twice their size are doing it with twice the violence and twice the potential for shin bones to pop through skin, which is the only reason to watch any of this shite in the first place. Women are going through a period where they’re grabbing at everything men have traditionally considered their domain, and that’s understandable, but their quality filter could do with a tinkering if they’re including egg chasing in their wish list.

Still, I suppose in a way I’m happy that it exists to briefly brighten up a miserable Saturday afternoon spent interminably waiting for Pointless to come on. Have at it ladies – we’re laughing with you not at you, promise. Even if it looks like Hattie Jacques piling into Mrs Wembley in a field of hoof prints, you’ve got equal sporting status and you’re going to roll about in the muck with it.

Is that Bella Emberg warming up?

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