BEFORE Alan Jones was every bored retiree’s best mate on the radio, he was a rugby union coach.
Let’s be honest, a pretty decent one.
In 1982, two years before he sunk his teeth into the Wallabies, he took perennial strugglers Manly to a coveted Sydney first grade premiership, their first in 32 years.
He did so by strict adherence to one often-repeated maxim:
“The difference between a professional and an amateur is a professional is dedicated to the eradication of error.”
In other words - he wanted perfection.
The intensity of his drive to that goal is undoubtedly what made him a good coach. (I suspect it’s also what made him a former coach much sooner than he would have liked.)
But with all due respect, perfection, in rugby union terms, is a myth.
No individual or team has ever played a completely perfect half of football, let alone a full game or season.
The simple truth is, you don’t need to.
And Orange City is the proof.
The Lions’ 45-12 annihilation of Parkes Boars in Saturday’s major semi-final continued their unbeaten run across the past two Blowes Clothing Cup seasons.
It’s an incredible feat, and one which will, barring something truly extraordinary, be capped in two weeks’ time by yet another premiership.
Were they perfect on Saturday? No.
Did it matter? Of course not.
What the best teams do, and certainly what the Lions do better than their Central West rivals, is limit the damage of their mistakes.
An example from the weekend ... A quarter of an hour into the contest breakaway Duncan Young lined up a clearing 22-metre restart drop kick.
With his side leading 10-0 he got a little greedy, tried to bite off too much distance and slammed the kick into the leaping defensive line.
Play broke down and Parkes was awarded a centre-field scrum, the ideal platform to launch its comeback.
Half-back Johnny Rathbone fed and retrieved the ball before sending it into the waiting arms of five-eighth Cameron Standen.
With options galore the pivot spied Mahe Fangupo charging towards the advantage line, screaming for the ball as he churned through the gears and hit full speed.
Standen put the ball on his chest and, from side on, it seemed nothing less than a pack of stampeding hippos could stop the flying centre.
Seconds later, he was lying on his back, gasping for air.
Young, no doubt fuelled by the anger of his mistake, had charged from the scrum and buried his shoulder deep into Fangupo’s ribs.
The roar from the home crowd was deafening, but the Lions limited their celebrations to a few pats on their flanker’s head.
It was no more or less than they are used to, from Young or themselves.
As the old saying goes, nobody’s perfect.
But who needs to be?