In 1599 Shakespeare quilled As you like it and its indelible ink has stained our consciousnesses ever thus. However, on closer inspection I think the Bard could have been describing the Seven Ages of Rugby:
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.
Translation: All the world is one great big rugby pitch and we are all players. You can be substituted or sent off! There are seven stages of evolution (except for the Welsh!).
At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Translation: Mini rugby first – with parents wailing like banshees: “snot him Jonny” they scream!
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel, And shining morning face, creeping like snail, Unwillingly to school.
Translation: Learning rugby at school, with the disenchanted, the dangerous and the smelly kid that needs to be disinfected.
And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad, Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Translation: Got pissed on first rugby tour, caught something dodgy, burns like a furnace when you pee, need to see the nurse.
Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation, Even in the cannon’s mouth.
Translation: The little Jack Russell of a Scrum-Half, too slow, too fat, too lazy. Keen to fight the world, and curse and yell. Too many punches to the head have taken their toll and he can no longer see straight. Or put in straight.
And then the justice, In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws, and modern instances, And so he plays his part.
Translation: Wisdom comes late. The “darkside” whispers in your ear and draws you close. You think you know it all. You become a Referee!
The sixth age shifts, Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side, His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide, For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again towards childish treble, pipes, And whistles in his sound.
Translation: Age begins to catch up with you. Your trousers come up to your nipples. Pipe smoke and a pint of Old Mild. The whistle is hung up. You are now a Referee’s Coach .
Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Translation: Dementia kicks in like an abused Blackpool donkey. You become clueless, brainless and downright dangerous. You think cognition is onomatopoeia for the sound your car makes when you start the engine, rather than the sound the hamster wheel makes in your head . You are now the Referee Assessor.
It puts Macbeth into a new light – the first Coach of Scotland!