With the Blues-Sharks game scheduled for 6-30am, CapeShark harks back to the early SuperRugby days, especially those early 4h30 games.
Dead still. Dark. And freezing cold. The panic subsides as you realise it’s just your alarm clock and not the university fire drill. It’s four in the morning. No man sane of mind is stirring. With their blankets wrapped tightly around them, five monasterial-like figures traipse down the stairs towards the residence TV room. From a distance you’d be mistaken for thinking it was some sort of cult. And in a way it was.
These were the early days of Super12. Long before South Africans (who incidentally contribute the most financially in the SANZAR deal) had any say in the way fixtures were organised. And if your beloved team had an afternoon game in New Zealand… sorry for you, you either missed the game or you arose at this ungodly hour.
In our residence it was quite common for a student to ‘forget’ to study for that final paper, but religiously rise for a rugby match on TV. Being at Rhodes, there were a handful of Natalians in our res. We could also count on the support of the East London guys who identified with the Sharks. P.E. guys on the other hand were generally weird metalheads that hated sport with a passion and wore T-shirts that said ‘Slayer’ and ‘Marilyn Manson’. But the Zim guys were always keen for a game of rugby, irrespective of who was playing.
One of the brethren took it upon himself to bring his kettle down (he’d smuggled it into res behind the warden’s back). The kettle boiled furiously while Darren and Naas talked their usual kak. I can’t describe it sufficiently except to say that coffee at four in the morning in a cold, dark res room is the equivalent of getting room service at a five star hotel – from Angelina Jolie. But few things in life feel worse than going through all this effort, the sleep deprivation and hypothermia, only to see your team lose. And if that was the case, then you were in a bad mood for the rest of the day, and what a long day it turned out to be.
Now excuse if I sound all metaphysical and fuzzy, but waking up at 4am really was good for the soul. No, really. I’m telling you those grannies are onto something. For starters you had more hours in a day. And you came to appreciate things like sunrises, something we do too little of nowadays. Somehow camaraderie actually meant something at this hour. And of course, there were the memories you took away.
One of the most vivid memories I have of a ‘pre-dawnie’ is waking up on a Free State farm in winter to watch a Springbok-New Zealand game. We were in a barn, nogal. As far as I recall we got our asses kicked. Gaffie Du Toit and Dave van Hoeslin were our halfbacks for goodness sakes!
It’s only a game, they say. But it must be the adventure streak in all of us that makes getting up ridiculously early for it so rewarding.