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Rugby World Cup: A Rush, Under the Circumstances

November 2nd, 2019 · No Comments · Rugby, World Cup

This thing started just the other day! September 20. That was just last week … or last month … or nearly last month.

The ninth Rugby World Cup concluded today in Japan. South Africa overwhelmed England 32-12 to end the 20-team tournament on its 43rd day. And people complain that the baseball playoffs are too long.

This was my first rugby final, and it started at 10 a.m. local (France) time because the matches were being held in Japan, where it was night.

It has been mentioned, on this blog, that my brain generally seems to reject the concept of rugby. To me, it is the primitive older brother of American football that never learned the forward pass.

When living on the western side of the Atlantic, a sports fan can pretty much ignore rugby. But when they wheel out the big rugby nations here at the end, the New Zealand, England, Australia, Ireland, South Africa crew … just to remain conversant in your neighborhood, where the expats live, you need to know who is who. And — get this — France is a serious rugby country, too. Crazy, right?

So, how did it go?

England was heavily favored, having ousted defending champions New Zealand in the semifinals, but in the final they got South Africa, which counts previous Rugby World Cups as major national events. (Seen the movie “Invictus”? It was only about how South Africa’s 1995 rugby team helped a country begin healing its apartheid pastNelson Mandela, remember him? Historical figure and all.

England’s team was playing for itself; South Africa’s team was playing for … South Africa.

The match hinged on South Africa’s physical superiority, which is how deeply invested teams demonstrate they are prepared to win.

The Springboks (as South Africa’s team is known), wore down and pulled away from England, adding the only two “tries” in the match — which were pretty spectacular.

OK, I will concede, by the end I was kinda invested. I wanted South Africa to win, and I wanted to see more of the folks back home, in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, etc., celebrating the Springboks’ decisive victory.

The takeaway being that under certain circumstances, like the fate of a nation and a championship and some spectacular and violent collisions, I can be lured into watching a couple of rugby. Might even learn the rest of the rules someday.


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