I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Rugby World Cup match on Sunday with New Zealand and South Africa. These two teams have a storied rivalry and the match on Sunday was close and hard-fought. The New Zealand All Blacks battled their way to a 20-18 victory which propelled them into the final against Australia. The Rugby World Cup has been played in the United Kingdom for the past month and the last two teams standing will play on Saturday, October 31st.
For those of you not knowing much about the World Cup or rugby in general, it is worth a watch to try and understand its beauty. Yes, there is beauty underneath the physicality and display of brute strength. Like American football, in rugby, one team tries to advance the ball over a goal line or try to kick the ball through the goal post uprights. The beauty of rugby is the free-flowing nature of the play which is sometimes frantic and sometimes a testament of wills. I will not go into the rules and subtleties of the game but if you watch for at least 10 minutes you will get the basic premise.
I was in a lounge the other day, when I overheard two fellows discussing the greatness of various quarterbacks in NFL history. One guy was a staunch defender of Dan Marino the famed Miami Dolphin quarterback who holds high esteem in the quarterback hierarchy. The other fellow was throwing down names like a Black Jack dealer but the other guy was not having any of it. It was only Dan Marino as the best of all time and he laid out his case while stoking on a big cigar. Normally I stay out of these types of useless conversations which are almost like argument’s involving politics and religion. But, I interjected myself into the fray and in a gentlemanly way asked if anybody caught the rugby match on the tube.
Dan Marino’s number one fan responded with dead silence as if I was a heretic and the other open minded chap said that he caught most of the first half. We exchanged some banter about the contest and I concluded that it was hard to watch the NFL after that rugby match due to the sheer physicality and toughness of the players involved while they use no padding. Again, silence from the Marino groupie and then I sensed it was time to let him continue his love poem about Marino to the other guy.
He continued on about quarterbacking then he said something that I found profound and it had nothing to do with Mr. Marino. He said he liked football because it is short bursts of designed plays that had to be performed with precision against the opposition. What he was saying to me was that football has structure and physical toughness while rugby is too chaotic and too hard to keep your attention span. Okay, he didn’t say that last part but that is part of my perception.
I think a lot of football fans respect the toughness of the rugby players but it’s not their cup of tea. I think that is fair to some extent but the more I watch rugby, I get to understand how the plays are set up and how they want to maneuver the ball downfield. The big difference between the two is that there are no beer and truck commercials every 5 minutes. The constant stoppage of play for small infractions and instant replay controversies are what drives me to just record some games and watch without any interruptions. I think that we can all agree that is the big difference between the two. Cheers to New Zealand and Australia this Saturday for the World Cup Championship.
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