In some parts of the world, the 2011 Rugby World Cup is the most significant sporting event for a span of four years, whereas in other regions the event will pass without notice. My readers in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, and France will no doubt be aware that the tournament has just started (listed in likelihood of winning); although I suspect that people from the other 15 countries who qualified will also be watching with hopeful anticipation of a big upset.
To the purist, “rugby” conjures up a complex dance of shifting shadows that dynamically changes form in response to the situational whim of the opponent. Strength, agility, speed, stamina, and strategy are all required by the 15 players who represent each team, with no time-outs or substitutions (other than when you’re done for the day). The modern rugby game is really fast and furious, with pulsing action often sweeping from one end of the paddock to the other.
To those who are unaware, rugby is not a brutal game of fisticuffs and disorderly conduct. “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, while rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen”, or so the witty quote says. Despite the appearance, there is structure and intent behind each players actions, and where playing together as a “team” is essential for success.
The event runs from 9 Sept – 23 Oct, so you may have a difficult time finding flights and accommodation during that time. However, try to watch a game while the best teams in the world are playing each other. Please note that when rugby is added back to the Olympics, it will be the abbreviated Seven’s version of the game (7 players on each team, for 7 minutes in each half), quite different to the full-blown form of the game on display at the Rugby World Cup.
If you’ve never seen a game before then please watch at least one of the upcoming games – but it’s probably best if you have a look at the rules of the game first: http://www.irblaws.com/EN/downloads (Better still, have somebody over to explain it all.)