Mr Beaufort's Guide to Rugby and the World Cup
“Rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentleman. Eighty minutes of herculean sized men chasing an egg around a muddy field with no skill involved at all.” This, was the controversial view aired by Mr’s Beaufort during the opening game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. An unbalanced opinion based on her biased love for cricket, buoyed by our recent World Cup win here on home soil. An opinion I believe is based on the comfortable seat she has saved at the Pavilion End…
Sadly, she’s not the only one that feels this way about our nation’s most noble sport. Oscar Wilde once famously said that “Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the centre of the city.” But fear not reader, I’m not here to charge down your World Cup hysteria - this is a view I do not condone, nor share. Of course, rugby is different but by no means is it less skilled. So, to put her argument firmly into touch and blow the whistle on her evidently lacking knowledge, I’ve pulled together my guide to rugby and the World Cup.
The start of the rugby season signals means many things – Guinness officially regains its hydrating status, weekend plans are now staggered around World Cup or Six Nations games but most sadly it signals the end of summer. A time to pack away the linens and layer up for the colder months ahead. If you’re looking to avoid a style red card this winter then I’d suggest you’d keep it simple. Layer up a lambs-wool half knit with a quilted gilet, aka. ‘The Fulham Life Jacket’ – the perfect buoyancy aid to help you float home from Twickenham to Fulham after sinking a few too many.
Rugby has gone from a game played in dress shirts and bow ties to one played in skin-tight sausage cases that contain far from porky front rows. Off the pitch however, the sport of rugby has successfully held onto its traditional roots and produced the best outside-half your wardrobe will ever see – the rugby shirt. Pre-game, post-game or simply down the pub – the cotton shirt hits the sartorial sweet spot between smart and casual. See it as the polo shirt’s rugged cousin that could seriously improve your on and off-pitch conversion rate.
For this year’s World Cup, I’d recommend the Oakfield Oxford Stripe Rugby Shirt (because vertical stripes are for those football playing fairies).
If you’re anything like Mr’s Beaufort and suffer from a weak back line of Rugby knowledge, here’s my rugby jargon buster that will ensure you’re ahead of the pack:
Brave blossoms – nickname for the Japanese national rugby team
Hand-off – the use of a hand, when in possession of the ball, to fend off defenders.
Rucks and mauls – formed following a tackle, these melees either take place when the ball has gone to ground (a ruck) or if a tackle has remained on their feet with ball-in-hand (a maul).
Ball not released - tackled player holds onto the ball on the ground. No innuendos in this jargon buster thank you.
‘Going upstairs’ - when a referee asks the TMO (Television Match Official) or “video ref” to confirm whether a try, penalty goal or conversion has been scored. I told you, no innuendos.
Sin bin – the bench where players who have made serious fouls are sent after being shown a yellow card by the referee. Or, the bench I’ll be sitting on after a few too many World Cup related weekends in the pub.
Created in 1823 when William Webb Ellis first ran with a leather ball during a game of football, rugby has more tradition than you can shake a stick (or bat) at. The sport was born in the British public school system but has since grasped the hearts and minds of nations around the world. Over the year’s rugby has produced some of sports most iconic moments - Mandela and Pienaar in ‘95, Wilkinson in 2003 and Japan’s shock win in 2015. There’s no other sport that offers cutthroat creativity, colossal clashes and classroom camaraderie all within the confines of a 100m field. Name me another sport that allows some of the lesser-known nations, i.e. Scotland, to take on titans of the world?