The Football World Cup…

…is currently taking place in France. OK, it’s the Rugby Football World Cup, and it is taking place in the Home of the people formerly known as cheese-eating surrender monkeys, but now known as George’s new best friends, since the election of Nicky Sarcastic as Le Presidente.

This competition, I should explain for American readers, is a genuine World Cup in that it is a sport played by people from many countries, not all of them in North America. It is a sport with a high risk of serious injury (one player in the last world cup in 2003 is now confined o a wheelchair), but unless the injury is serious the game continues while the medical staff attend to the fallen player on the pitch. No prizes here for dramatic rolling around in mock agony like those soccer softies. Also unlike soccer the teams national anthems are respected, and if a minute’s silence is held before a match, that silence is respected. In the UK, soccer now holds a minutes applause as commemoration, a shameful comment upon the pond-scum who follow soccer. So it is a rugged game, but with morals. The rugged aspect seems to appeal to certain nationalities. in the 1920’s and ’30’s french rugby was notorious for it’s violence, and fatalities were quite frequent, if not common.

Another nation who like the physical aspect of the game are the Samoans, who are playing the USA as I type this post. The game was introdued to the South Pacific by missionaries who thought that Rugby was abtter past-time than cannibalism or head-hunting, though to judge by the takle by Brian Lima on the engligh player Jonny Wilkinson, head-hunting is still a popular hobby in Samoa. The Samoans have not had a sucessful world cup, as they have yet to win a match, and were beaten by their local rivals, Tonga. It looks like they are going to exorcise some frustration on the USA. Half the Samoan team play in the English Premier League, while half the US team were born overseas. Samoa should probably be descibed as the Samoan second XV since any kid with real talent gets snapped up by New Zealand. New Zealand perform a traditional “haka” before kick-off, a challenge to their opponents. The Samoans have their own version of the “haka” it’s not clear who does what if Samoa play New Zealand, however since the NZ team is a mixure of caucasians and Samoans their right to perform a maori haka might be questioned (but not by me – they are big buggers!)

Tonga by beating Samoa, have perfomed the main upset of the tournament so far, however Georgia (ex Soviets, not peaches) ran Ireland very close. However due to the physicality of the game, underdogs don’t often ge their day in the sun.

The game can pretty complex so doesn’t “play well” to spectators with little rugby experience, however a fascinating exposition was written back in 1971, and rule changes notwithstanding, remains a valuable guide to what goes on (especially regarding the dark arts in the front row of the scrum) The 1971 Lions Speak.

The second-half has just kicked off, and Samoa lead 22 -3, and it is high time I had the second half of my dinner.

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~ by @mmonyte on September 26, 2007.

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