Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Am I the only one to get a little moist-eyed at the announcement today that the referee's scrum routine for the upcoming provincial rugby championship is being changed to 'Crouch, touch, set'? This appears to signify that the immortal phrase 'Crouch, touch, pause, engage'—first used, I believe, in a Tennyson ode, and later popularized by Nietzsche in Thus Spake Zarathustra—is on the way out? A whole generation has grown up with these incantatory words ringing in its ears. I am not sure, in fact, that New Zealand would have won the Rugby World Cup without them. Right up to the final the ABs probably had little recording devices under their pillows, like the ones for the children in the nurseries of Brave New World, whispering this lyrical litany into their sleeping brains, imprinting it on the hard drive, ensuring that when the day came and the scrum went down they would crouch, touch, pause and engage. In that order. Unquestioningly. Tell me I have a dirty mind (please) but I always had the feeling there was something sexual, well, sensual anyway, about these intensely physical instructions; and maybe that's why they have sunk so deep in the nation's psyche. Touching and engaging, after all, is what keeps the human race going, with or without the pausing. As was memorably said by E M Forster, who played first-five for Cambridge University, 'Only connect.' Farewell, then, familiar words; at the going down of the scrum, we will remember them. 'Crouch, touch, set' doesn't have quite the same ring but no doubt we'll get used to it in time.
Posted by Denis Welch at Tuesday, August 07, 2012