Tales from the Watercooler: When two worlds collide...


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The Independent Online

Tomorrow sees the climax of rugby’s Six Nations. Following Isaac Newton’s fourth law of competition, my inept compatriots have zero chance of winning (what a shocker), but for everyone else it has come down to a three-way scrum between Ireland, England and France. Surely, though, the moment of the series came last weekend when, during half-time in the England v Wales game, footballers Robbie Savage and Joey Barton were interviewed by the BBC pitchside at Twickenham.

Normally, of course, when footballers speak to the media, their spilled consonants and CBeebies grammar go unnoticed. Who can blame them if they split their infinitives, given that most of them left school at 12? In spite of this, many rugby fans insist we football fans are guttersnipes, so one can only imagine the derision in the Home Counties when the hapless duo were introduced.

I recall my only trip to Edinburgh for a rugby match, to see Scotland play England. The visitors won a penalty and their man was readying to take it, so – waving and booing – my mate and I did our best to put him off. Just then, an immaculately mellifluous Edinburgh burr rose up from the row behind. “Ugh. They must be from Glasgow.” Oil and water? Try rugby and football.