The Wind of Change

Scene: The SLC Gair Oval, 1950s, Saturday morning, winter. The U15 rugby teams are engaged in an interschool fixture.

I had played in the U15Bs as hooker (my usual position) which we won, and was reserve for the As. For some reason unknown to me I was the only reserve. I stood on the sideline some yards from the coach, a reverend brother, whilst the match was in progress. We were the only persons on that sideline.

At some point in the first half, well, the reverend brother farted.  I stared straight ahead, though was conscious of being observed by him, I think to determine by any reaction if he had been heard.

Some 10-15 minutes later, he approached me and informed me that he had decided I would hook for the As the next week. This I did, and remained there for the season and later was even an occasional first XV player, usually when the late and great Viday Luckus was unavailable.

One may speculate on what success I may have had if this incident had not occurred, and whether it had any bearing, but God motions in mysterious ways.

(Incidentally, my twin Cliff also played. Being very fleet of foot he was a winger. During trials against Brisbane Grammar and Terrace this same Rev. Brother promoted me to the U15A wing, obviously confusing me with Cliff. Could I be the only SLC player to have played hooker and winger for the U15As?

About five decades later, I saw Cliff’s grandson Finnegan Hearn, a very talented player, score a runaway try in a similar game. He placed the ball over the line with one hand. After the game, I congratulated him, but counselled him that in our day we were always coached to place the ball over the line with two hands. One hand was a big no-no.

I told him I followed that advice religiously.

(On both occasions.)