I may have ranted about this before, I'm not sure. Either way, I'm due another.
I spent years in the corner getting shafted. The game is built for forwards. Generally, the lad kicking the balls in will be placed in the middle of the pitch, isolated and under no pressure. A half forward will make a run and receive a short pass straight into his path. No hope for the wing back. Play continues and forwards being forwards, they fart around with it. A back throws himself into a crowd of traffic and retrieves the ball, bursting through the first tackle. A quick one two and the ball is back in the middle of the pitch.
Immediately after releasing the ball, the back will scan what he left behind trying to identify his man. Too often, by the time he can lock eyes on him, the ball is already floating through the air into his opposite number's arms. The white flag goes up to hurrahs from the fellow swashbucklers. The backs gritty play has already been erased from the memories and at the end of the night the knowledgeable selectors would rather purr over the scintilating points scored by their golden boys.
The game perfectly illustrates the difference in mentality between backs and forwards. Backs outwardly protest their hatred for the game but inwardly they love the doggedness of it all. They know its steels their mind for tough Championship games. The balls relentlessly rain down on top of them and they attack everyone ball like its the last. They'll get well pissed off when that ball floats over their head but they'll keeping driving on.
It will help build the necessary bonds between those in front, behind and too the side of them as each burst a gut to help the other. They'll never give up because even in training they play with their heart on their sleeve and won't want to return to the dressing room with anyone having got the better of him.
The forward on the other hand will saunter around. When the back is too close for comfort, they'll drift off away from the play to 'create space'. If the ball delivered into them isn't right on the money they'll continue the run in the direction of the giver, hands aloft, providing theatre to rival Broadway. If they are forced to make a tackle, you can be pretty sure it will be sloppy and result more often then not, in a free out.
The odd time, the trainer will switch the backs and forwards en masse. I would be surprised if any group of forwards ever got the better of any group of backs anywhere in the world, ever! The backs will run them ragged, playing fast direct ball and ploughing straight through the middle of the pitch. Such is the lack of respect forwards have for tackling, working hard or showing a bit of balls, the game will be an unsatisfying whitewash for the forwards.
Up to a certain level of football, you would take 15 backs over 15 forwards any day of the week. Its only at the top level, maybe the better Intermediate teams up where you really need the bit of class. For the rest, 15 relentless dogs will win more often then not. Maybe thats just the opinion of a back, one who would be pleased to be proved wrong.