Recently heard..

During Prime Minister’s Questions

Emily Thornberry (Islington, South and Finsbury) (Lab): I wonder whether my right hon. Friend could explain a phrase that I heard recently: “Play the ball and not the man.” Perhaps as an ex-rugby player he could explain both its meaning and its application to Prime Minister’s questions.

Everyone can learn from Slugger! [If only our own commenters would.. – Ed]

, , , ,

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah, “Illegitimis non carborundum”… gets it through in the end…

  • Dave

    Nice phrase, Mick, but I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be remembered for that alone. Better surpass yourself fast. πŸ˜‰

  • Mick Fealty

    I have to say that Brown’s response was functional but less than inspiring…

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    That’s why I decided not to include it.

  • Dave

    Hmmm… it looks like a case of credit where it isn’t due. It turns out to be a sporting idiom dating back to 1896, with basketball and rugby both claiming it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed Dave, and soccer as noted in the Slugger glossary entry that’s been sitting at the top of the Google search for the last three years…

    It surely needs updating by now…

    It contrasts with our old Gaelic watchword: if you can’t get the man, get the ball…

  • Pete Baker

    Yes Dave. But this is about its use in reference to political discourse in particular.

    Anyway.. we are in the humour category.

  • “Anyway.. we are in the humour category.”

    Well, ‘If only our own commenters would’ is every so funny πŸ™‚

  • Pete Baker

    It was the only category I could use, Nevin.

  • alibi

    As an ex-rugby player I fear the honourable member may have an altogether different interpretation of this expression than Ms Thornberry.

  • shibboleth

    Not perhaps the best choice of sports as Rugby is very much a case of first and foremost playing the man ie playing the man with the ball.

  • Pete Baker

    Anybody else want to provide evidence of their not following the links?

  • shibboleth

    Pete Baker if that comment is aimed at me then you are wrong. I know what Mick Fealty has said. The rugby reference was in relation to Emily Thornberry