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(Don’t) play it again, Sam …

Whenever a group of Rust columnists convenes, as you’d expect, we chat mostly about everything and nothing but there always come a point in proceedings – sometimes brief – where the watchwords behind the very purpose of this organ and what we’re trying to do get mentioned if not discussed.

For the me key principles are, firstly, that – whatever our background or specific interests – we’re in the business of supplying opinions and perhaps personal insights on life from the perspective of people who are beyond the first flush of youth.

On this subject I was stopped in my tracks yesterday when watching a BBC News report upon research findings showing that online services such as Netflix and Amazon now have more subscribers in the UK than the mainstream terrestrial TV channels and that regulatory body Ofcom is urging traditional players like the BBC and ITV to band together in order to compete.

As a report, that far all seemed perfectly reasonable and straightforward.

And then suddenly it was announced that the average age of a BBC viewers was 60-plus!

Even though I am above that average age the revelation shocked me greatly – and not in a good way.

Who wants to identified as part of an audience that is full of dribbling, bleary-eyed oldies who are watching programmes – or even channels – in which they’re not particularly interested, only because either they cannot find the control zapper and/or have found it but have forgotten how to use it?

I don’t.

Inside this shrivelled, dried-up husk of a sixty-something exterior I still feel like a twenty-five year old woman full of adventurous spirit, ever up to date with the latest in fashion, entertainment, movies, music and art and always open and welcoming to everything new in technology and communication.

Even though, of course, I don’t use social media at all and these days rarely go to the theatre, cinema or concerts – in each case because I can neither be bothered nor to be honest miss the experience.

For me, the second key principle guiding each Rust contributor is the acceptance that – by and large – we are not in the business of straight reporting, well save where we are somewhere unique and/or doing something unique – in which eventuality, fair enough.

The point here is that there is are two perfectly-obvious reasons why professional journalists report: (1) it’s the purpose of their trade; and (2) generally-speaking, they’re better at it than the rest of us.

There’s nothing strange or worrying about these essential truths.

For example, some might say I’m being humble, but all my life I’ve taken the view that the fact I didn’t end up as a journalist was a natural and inevitable product of simply not having enough of whatever it takes to be one.

How so? Well, I didn’t become one – so clearly I didn’t.

Thinks about it. Aren’t you glad that your long-time and trusted accountant or lawyer went into accountancy or law, rather than you?

There’s never been any point in any of us looking back and wishing that – years or decades ago – we’d taken a different career path, or married a different person, or bought a different house or car, or even moved to a different country whether temporarily or permanently.

We didn’t. We did what we did – get over it. And then try go forward tomorrow from here.

Which is a convoluted way of getting around to recommending to Rust readers today this excellent reflection upon the rugby career of Welsh flanker and two-time British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton by Paul Rees of – THE GUARDIAN

In my view Rees comes from the top rank of rugby scribes and (as here) can sum up the career of a retiring player far better than I ever could, as I’m happy to admit.

My only additional comment is that – in the position on the field, and manner, in which he played – Sam Warburton was lucky to play elite rugby for five years, let alone the best part of a decade.

There’s little doubt that he’ll be feeling the effects of his rugby career for the rest of his life.

With the number of games top rugby players notch up each season, the ever-growing size and fitness of players and the cumulative impact of their on-field collisions, rugby has serious issues coming down the track in the area of player welfare – and knows it.

Yesterday the same BBC News bulletin that carried news of the advance of Netflix also contained a piece upon soccer’s latest medical research initiative – a massive exercise to measure and assess the potential impact upon ex-players of heading the ball all their lives and careers.

It’s enough to make you question what sport is all about – and, if aspects of it are bad for you – is ‘taking part’ really worth it?

These are issues that all modern youngsters (and their parents) need to think about.





About Sandra McDonnell

As an Englishwoman married to a Scot, Sandra experiences some tension at home during Six Nations tournaments. Her enthusiasm for rugby was acquired through early visits to Fylde club matches with her father and her proud boast is that she has missed only two England home games at Twickenham since 1995. Sandra has three grown-up children, none of whom follow rugby. More Posts