Foolishly, I had agreed a week earlier to allow my progeny to watch the Goblet of Fire instalment without first checking the sports calendar.
I thought I had my bases covered. The Giro d’Italia was over, the French Open wasn’t being televised and the World Cup was not yet underway. Rugby was not on my radar. Which is not that surprising given the Wobblies’ form of recent times.
The fact that Suncorp Stadium, capacity 52,500, barely mustered a crowd of 33,000 despite a stack of radio station ticket giveaways underscores the trepidation with which the average Aussie spectator approaches their rugby these days.
Still, as Ron and Hermione feigned agitated disinterest in each other, I kept one eye on the Twitter feed, just in case the Aussies decided to break a three-year habit and actually win an opening Test.
A few minutes in, Australia had scored a penalty, France a drop goal and Stephen Moore’s captaincy was over before it began, courtesy of a crook knee.Embed from Getty Images
The scores remained locked at 3-all. Harry entered a student-devouring maze. At the 16th minute, as the dark arts tightened their grasp on the fair folk of Hogwarts, the Wallabies found some magic of their own. In disbelief, I watched my Twitter feed turn over like ticker tape. The Wallabies went to 10 points, then 15, 22, 29.
At half time they had a 20-point lead. I was gagging to switch channels. I was just one press of a twitchy thumb away from the action.
I considered my options. I could renege on my deal with the offspring on the grounds that we were Muggles and as such we watched rugby.
Or I could get me one of Hermione’s Time Turners, so I could go back in time and watch the game while simultaneously administering moral support and anti-scare cuddles to my daughter as Harry and Voldy went toe to toe with their magic sticks.
Of course, I did none of these things. I sat stoically on the couch while Harry lunged for the portkey that would return him to safety. On the next channel, the Wallabies bounded away to a 50-23 win. I didn’t see a minute of play. But my parental halo was intact.