Rugger Buggers # 2 2009

Painting of naked rugby players
Oil on canvas
152.3 x 152.3 cm

The significance of the egg

In this painting I have replaced the ball which is the conduit for achieving the game’s objective by an egg. The egg is not only that of an ostrich (from my own geographical birth roots) but one typically used and decorated by the Khoi San, the Bushman of Southern Africa. I have here introduced a personal cultural reference. The Khoi San are believed to be the closest living (homo sapiens) relatives to our earliest ancestors. I am here referencing the primordial, inherent in our sophisticated (read watered down) version of pagan gladiatorial contact sport.


The (South African) transitional styled multi coloured plastic stuffed head trophy made from recycled plastic is the supposed representative prized object of the game. The revised version of a vicarious hunting trophy has taken on new meaning. But what does it mean to win a trophy. To win such a trophy is arguably as meaningless as winning a replica of a Nineteenth century ceramic urn, purportedly containing the ashes of a cricket bail But then to make this type of unfair comparison may be said to be “not playing cricket”. Visual trope-like slippage occurs in these playful images.

The action

The players are frozen in a mid air tackle about to crash down upon the egg. The players have in their eagerness both lost control of it and it hovers just above the chequered board of the game, Both the players and the egg/ball are steadily and inexorably being pulled down by the earth’s gravitational attraction. The action takes place above a perspectival grid, a checker or chess board which is itself somewhat hovering in illusionistic space. The concept of gaming itself is a simulacrum of the real thing, a virtual reality.

The backdrop consists in rough drawn chalked white marks on a black and red surface, each part denoting the seven days of each week. These markings are usually made by inmates of a cell on the walls of their place of incarceration when counting off their sentence until their release. Spectators are marking time watching their favourite contact sport and are filling in their own time sheets. This filling in time is in stark contradiction to experiencing it – and what happens to all those score cards of oh so many past matches witnessed?