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Tackling your First World problems is not so easy from behind the reserves' bench

Opinion

Somewhere along the line, the Royal Family lost their sense of team spirit – leaving both sides dropping the ball, writes Michael Blucher.

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On rugby tours back in the amateur era, they were known as the “double dirties”- the blokes in the squad who, for that particular week, were surplus to requirement.

Not in the match-day starting XV, not in the reserves, just left to hang out, do pretty much what they want.

The more conscientious individuals chipped in wherever they could – collected all the strapping tape, helped put the kit bags on the bus, ran errands, that sort of stuff.

Others lingered and loitered – dirty they’d missed out on the starting side, just as dirty they weren’t even on the bench. Double dirties – physically present but emotionally adrift, waiting impatiently for the next game, or the next week, when it was “their turn”.

I couldn’t help but think, watching the fallout from the Harry and Meghan interview, the “Ginger and Whinger” Oprah opus, that the Royal family is like one giant, never ending rugby tour.

In the inner sanctum, you have all the key personnel – the coach, captain, vice-captain, goal kicker, star try scorer, even the equivalent of the hardworking anchor to the scrum, rarely seen or even noticed. Just toiling away selflessly in the background, doing their job.

But then there’s the more peripheral types, largely superfluous, part players looking for something to do, waiting their turn, knowing it will probably never come. All care, no responsibility. Prince Andrew, for instance, the original modern day double dirty royal. What a stellar contribution he’s made to Windsor Blue Bloods over the past decade or more.

And now we have Harry, at one point the future star, So much potential. We all loved Harry when he was a young piss-wreck, kitting himself out in Nazi costumes at parties and following his beloved English rugby team around the world.

He was relatable, but there was also substance and purpose. Two tours of duty, all the Invictus Games stuff, Harry was the real deal, the one deemed most likely to drag the Royal family kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

But then he married Meghan, and it all became very complicated, as it often does with families. The simple rule of thumb – the more people and personalities you throw into the mix, the more likely there’s friction.

And that’s well before the scrutiny that comes with 26 ka-trillion “experts” worldwide, monitoring and critiquing your every move.

What role has the Duchess of Sussex played in re-engineering the thinking and re-ordering the priorities of her husband? Blind Freddie can see she’s had a profound effect. And the true royalists resent that – big time.

In fact there’s not one alive who doesn’t wish she wasn’t still hooked up with Mike Ross, working as a senior associate at Spectre Pearson Litt, or whatever the latest reincarnation was in the hit show Suits.

Be that as it may, the truth is we never really know what goes on inside the marriages of other people, even if we “know” them. Taking it a step further, we certainly don’t have the faintest clue what goes on inside the walls of the asylum that is Buckingham Palace.

In that sense, we’re much better off sitting on the sideline, watching the game unfold, and simply enjoying the spectacle.

There is one thing we know for sure – when you sign up for any team, be it the Windsor Blue Bloods or the famed Goondiwindi Trotting Ducks, your sign up for the lot – the good, the bad and the indifferent.

There’s no picking and choosing, even as a double dirty.

****

From the “did they really say that?” files of professional sport.

A high-profile footballer was kind enough to give up his time to play in a corporate golf day. Granted, it was being played on one of the more prestigious courses on the eastern seaboard – but you know, for a lot of professional athletes, time is still money.

The footy star, a single figure handicapper, unleashed his Big Dog on the “Long Drive Hole”, pumping one about 300m to easily outstrip the rest of the field by a good 40m.

In the lead up to presentation time, one of the organisers had a quiet word in his ear.

“I’ve organised it so you win the Cleveland Golf Bag,” he said, privately just a little proud at what he’d been able to swing at short notice. But the response from “Larry Long Drive” was anything but gracious.

“Mate I don’t need a new golf bag,” he said, chewing on the last piece of his eye fillet steak.

Oh.

“Well if you’d like, I can probably do a quick swap-a-roo so you get the Odyssey putter – it’s roughly the same value,” the organiser explained.

Response: “I don’t need a new putter either – I’m very comfortable with the one I’ve got.”

Oh-again.

Old mate organiser with quick enough on his feet to come up with the solution.

“In that case, the only thing I can suggest is that you stop hitting the ball so frigging far,” he said. And off he went to sort out the Nearest-The-Pin prizes.

The fate of the putter remains unclear. But if Odyssey is your brand, I’d be checking Facebook marketplace if I was you.

****

Another interesting initiative from our 2021 education system, supposedly designed to keep the playing field as level as possible. Senior school language students not allowed to do an assignment at home.

That creates an “unfair advantage”, apparently. The assignment can only be advanced in the classroom, ensuring that all students invest the same amount of time in the project.

Not sure that system prepares teenagers for the real world. Perhaps there’s a better explanation.

We can only hope so.

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