7 Reasons To Watch The Rugby World Cup
Here we go then. After four years of waiting England are finally about to bring the Webb Ellis Trophy home again. Don’t worry though, if you are of another nationality, there are still reasons to watch.
1. The Perennials. Yes, I’m talking about New Zealand. Favourites for the fifth tournament in a row and justifiably so. The Kiwis are very good and every other team out there is quite frankly abysmal. Add into the mix that they are also hosts then the odds of 8/13 still seem quite generous. To an uneducated supporter that is. Everyone else knows that New Zealand will not win. They are chokers. Defeated in the 1995 final, the 1999 and 2003 semi-finals and the 2007 quarter-finals. They are the Netherlands of the rugby world. So much natural talent and yet so little mental toughness. The draw has been kind to them this year, they play their nemeses France in the group stage meaning they’ll win that one. A quarter-final against Argentina won’t provide too many difficulties, but then they come up against the Aussies – who, after losing to Ireland in the group stages, knock South Africa out in the quarters. And the Aussies win that one. Because they know how.
2. The Group Of Death. If there is such a thing as the group of death in this World Cup, it’s group D. Neither Wales nor South Africa will find it easy against Samoa or Fiji and while South Africa’s experience should help them through, Wales may be heading home early. Which is obviously a shame because New Zealand is full of sheep.
3. The Minnows. That’s right, I’m talking about Scotland. They should be entertaining to watch. For a neutral anyway. For a Scot there’ll be a dispiriting draw against Romania, two horrendous defeats to Argentina and Georgia and then a two-point win against England. Just because that’s all the Scots care about. And because Hape will be playing for England instead of the suspended Tulagi – who head-butted one touch-judge, two cheerleaders and a supporters coach during the game against Argentina.
4. Sleep Deprivation. The time difference means all of us who fine-tuned the art of staying awake all night followed by a half-arsed day at work during The Ashes, get to do it all over again. The first game between the hosts and Tonga is really just a warm-up. The fun starts on Saturday morning. The first of four games kicks off at 2am. There are no forty-minute lunch breaks to sleep through. No rain-delays to give you an excuse to go to bed. Just rugby, rugby, rugby. But that’s great because being deprived of sleep is wonderful. It puts you in a trance-like state through which you do all the jobs you hate without even realising. It really should be available on the National Health.
5. Commentary. With no Ortis Deley presenting, we have to look to the commentators for tongue-twisters. And, in particular, the unlucky sole who pulled the short straw and will find themselves in Auckland on 25th September commentating on Fiji v Samoa. If you know your Waqaniburotu, Murimurivalu and Koyamaiboles from your Treviranus, Poluleuligaga and Tagicakibaus then I suggest you give ITV a call. You’ll almost certainly be put on stand-by. For the rest of us, this has drinking game written all over it. For every mispronunciation, it’s two fingers. You’ll be wrecked by 6am.
6. The Unexpected. Last year ITV performed quite a coup. They got Francois Pienaar to join their line-up for the Football World Cup. Yes, the rugby legend Francois Pienaar. One assumes this was because the World Cup was being hosted in South Africa. So this begs the question, which Kiwi football star have they lined up to offer expert analysis on the scrum? That’s right, it’s Blackburn defender and current Kiwi captain, Ryan Nelson. I expect.
7. The Alternative. Well that would be to listen to it. On, wait for it, TalkSport. Yes, that’s right, TalkSport! They have exclusive rights which means no Ian Robertson this year. They do have a decent commentary team with John Taylor and Brian Moore in the ranks, but my problem is that they’ll keep interrupting the matches to tell us that Nick Barmby has rejoined Spurs on a free and some twat from a van-hire company will repeatedly tell they’re the best in Canvey Island. I don’t want to know! Then we’ll probably have Jon Gaunt doing a rugby phone-in with Nick Griffin. It’s not going to be pretty. Watch it on TV instead. Watch it on a real channel. Watch it on… oh… erm… it’s on ITV again.