May 25 2010
Chader takes a sideways look...
A Rugby Dream (with apologies to MLK)
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of rugby our nation has seen. Five score years ago, a great Exeter, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Sandy Park Proclamation.
This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of non Guinness Premiership rugby supporters who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice of the PRL/ RFU. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of ring fencing by the back door.But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that rugby is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the rugby fans is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the rugby fan lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity run by Sky and the PRL. One hundred years later, the rugby fan is still languishing in the corners of England, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall and finds himself an exile in his own land of the South West.
So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.In a sense we have come to our South West rivals to pay our money and cheque. When the architects of our RFU wrote the magnificent words of the Continuum and the declaration of excellent rugby, they were signing a promissory note to which every Rugby fan was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all rugby men and women would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the promised land of the GP.It is obvious today that the RFU/PRL has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her rugby fans outside of the GP are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, RFU has given the rugby fans a bad cheque which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is corrupt we refuse to believe that there is corruption and lack of funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this rugby nation.
So Exeter has come to cash this cheque -- a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice of the Promised Land. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind RFU/PRL of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of rugby justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of rugby’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of rugby injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the rugby supporters. This sweltering summer of the rugby fans legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
Two Thousand and Ten is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the rugby fan needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the RFU/PRL returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in rugby world until the rugby fan is granted his rugby rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into drunken degradation. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvellous new support which has engulfed the rugby community must not lead us to distrust of all PRL/RFU management, for many of our rugby brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of rugby rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the rugby cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the rugby fans basic mobility is from a smaller town to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a rugby fan in Penzance cannot see Premiership rugby in Exeter and believes he has nothing for which to travel for. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow rugby experiences. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of RFU/ PRL brutality and injustice of ring fencing by the back door. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.Go back to Penzance, go back to Plymouth, go back to Taunton, go back to Barnstaple, go back to the clubs and fields of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Rugby dream.
I have a dream that one day this team will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Totnes the sons of former rugby players and the sons of former rugby owners will be able to sit down together at a table of rugby brotherhood.I have a dream that one day even the state of Cornwall, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. They will build their stadium.
I have a dream that my child will one day live in a rugby nation where he will not be judged by his playing ability but by the content of his tackling to smash open defences with great skill.I have a dream today.I have a dream that one day the state of Rugby, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little rugby boys and ruby girls will be able to join hands with other little rugby boys and rugby girls of the Premiership and walk together as rugby sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the rugby faith with which I return to the South West. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of ring fencing, a rugby ball of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our rugby nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to play together, to struggle together, to go to pubs together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day to play in the Premiership.
This will be the day when all of rugby’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "Rugby is coming home”
And if England is to be a great rugby nation this must become true.
So let rugby be played from the prodigious hilltops of Twickenham.
Let rugby be played from the mighty mountains of Leicester.
Let rugby be played from the heightening Alleghenies of Newcastle!Let rugby be played from the snow-capped mountains of Cumbria!
Let rugby be played from the curvaceous peaks of that gorgeous girl, I was sitting beside!
But not only that; let rugby be played in Exmouth!
Let rugby be played in Launceston
!Let rugby be played from every hill and every molehill of Hampshire. From every rugby ground, let rugby be played.
When we play rugby, when play it in every village and every hamlet, from every County and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of rugby’s children, rugby men and league men, all religions, everyone will be able to play rugby and sing in the words of the old football spiritual, "Its coming home, its coming home, Rugby is coming home at last!"