Planes, trains and automobiles are not the only things that roar as I discovered on a recent photography field trip to the Honourable Artillery Company stadium in London for the pre-season friendly between Saracens and London Scottish. As a thrifty feline adapted to conserving energy, I don’t normally approve of unnecessary physical exertion although I am accustomed to guttural grunting having lived with John for the last 6 years! There was quite a cacophony of snorts and bellows coming from the pitch during this physically demanding match but I can’t say I was surprised given the extraordinary stamina and strength these lads displayed.
As a cat I’m genetically programmed to nap for 18 hours a day and chase various objects to practice my hunting skills and maintain my muscle tone, as well as gawp at anything that moves and seek out nourishment in preparation for my next nap. Therefore I am naturally fascinated by the human condition of competition – the innate impulse in 99% of human beings to excel at a task and try to beat others at the performance of that task. These lads were a great example of a contest between rivals using strength, speed and strategy to move a ball around in an opponent’s territory. I understand the need to protect your territory and I guard mine furiously with daily patrols around the garden, a strict regime of scenting and guard duty at every window in the house. Any potential invaders, usually consisting of neighbours, dogs walking by and impudent pigeons that delight in cooing and flicking their tails at me just after dinner, are given my most fierce stare. A skill the rugby players have also mastered judging by the scary scowls and shoulder shoves they gave each other throughout the match. The strange thing was, as soon as the game was over, they all started cheering and the twisted expressions of pain changed quickly to happy smiles like jovial buffalo. In case you were wondering, Saracens proved their might with a 73 to 7 victory.