One of the great innovations in rugby has been the use of the bench where 8 player can be held in reserve for some time in the match to meet the changing needs of the game.
Often the strength of your bench would the decisive factor in with you one or lost.
When Malcolm Turnbull became captain-player-coach of the Australian Wallaby Parliamentary team, he decided to change the rules about the bench. He didn’t give it enough thought and what he ended up with was cross bench, in fact a very cross bench.
A cross bench is a group of players who are on the bench and who are very very cross about almost everything. And almost to a man and woman they are cross with the government for some reason.
The general rule is that the coach can bring players off the bench to replace players who may be injured or tired but also not playing well. It is a one-on/one-off system.
But the cross bench doesn’t work to these rules.
They don’t belong to either side so they can simply run on the field whenever they feel like it.
They can play for whichever side they like and even change sides while on the field.
They don’t even have to play rugby. One Nation now has enough senators to challenge Team Xenophon to a game of quoits.
It can make life terribly confusing for the two sides who are actually trying to play rugby: all these odds and sods was running round, getting in the way and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they came on and played for the same side but they don’t.
Members of the old Palmer United Party gave up on trying to have a coordinated approach and supporting one side or the other. It was surprising because one of them was the Brick with Ears who actually knew how a bench should work and also how to run in the same direction consistently.
The Brick with Ears when he understood how a bench worked
The Brick with Ears with the cross bench when the sense of direction seem to have departed
A major problem for Malcolm is that most the new cross bench aren’t really interested in playing rugby at all when they are on the field. There are just interested in attracting attention to themselves.
One Nation Senator 72 Malcolm Roberts regularly runs on the field dressed as a clown.
Liberal democrats David Leyonhjelm often runs on carrying an imitation rifle and handing out free cigarettes to the players.
Pauline Hanson started turning up in her ballroom dress trying to reprise her Dancing with the Stars days. She got tired of the large sweaty front row forwards asking her for a quick knees up.
So she changed tactics to demanding “please explain” every time the referee blows his whistle.
Many referees try to explain, but have as much success as anyone else explaining something to Pauline Hanson.
As a result, slanging matches develop between the referee, the cross bench and the players on both sides, much to the displeasure of the paying public who turned up to see a rugby match.
Most people blame Malcolm.
So do I.