As I lurch headlong through mid life I find myself forever tut tut tutting at the various unseemly shenaneghins of our sporting stars. Supremely talented they may be however they seem curiously at ease on the red carpets and catwalks and even the lycra, skin tight on field garb is designed to flatter. I guess that is why a story from the UK really piqued my interest this week? The south of Wales was once a pit scarred industrial heartland that spawned true rugby royalty – Gareth Edwards, Barry John, Merv the Swerve and JPR to name but a few. Over time industry changed as did sport. Mines were shut and the teams named previously after gritty towns and villages morphed into glamorous skim milk macchiato sipping enclaves named after mythical beasts, fish and birds. Alas so too did the dressing shed atmosphere – once the nostril assaulting pungency of deep heat so redolent of times past but now more likely to be the metrosexual coconut scent of Ambre Solaire. Rugby union’s Ospreys were not immune indeed they possessed such a phalanx of stars that they were nicknamed the ‘Galacticos’ in deference to their far better renumerated round ball cousins, Real Madrid. That was before coach Sean Holley stepped up and drew the line. He banned fake tans and coloured boots. Sensational! From now on his players will only be allowed to sport real tans (as if they are going to get them during a long, sun starved south Wales winter) with burnished and bronzed limbs from a spray can forbidden. And its back in black for footwear too with players only allowed to lace up garishly hued boots if they’ve played 50 or more games for the Ospreys or chalked up 15 national caps. One hopes he will go still further – no ink on players unless their heritage dictates, no shaving except of facial hair, guernseys (made of cotton/polyester mix with the sleeves hacked off since you ask) tucked in and socks pulled up and of course no moosey, fudgey hair products unless of course, its Brylcreem. Short back and sides anyone?
This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on November 7th