My Love of Rugby

The rugby world cup is on and apart from the glorious memes that have been brought by the chaos of the French team, the typhoon and the of course the various online communities that I am participate in have all reminded me why I love this game.

Now I always claim that cricket is my second religion, but rugby without a doubt is my #1 sport. It’s the sport that I spent a decade going to every match in Durban to see my [Natal] Sharks constantly lose by narrow margins, saw the magnificent Jonah Lomu and an opportunity to see every international team. I can still remember the daring runs of Henry Honiball as he caught the ball on our 10m line from a clearance and dart across the field, zig-zagging through the field about to score only to be tackled last minute. Or seeing Ollie la Roux give a massive heave to the scrum as we [the Sharks] were looking to set up the attack on the blindside. Or how about Jonah sprinting down the opposite by-line and just being in utter awe of this man and how feeble everyone else seemed to the manner he played.

I got to meet so many players, as the Sharks back then, had many players with family involved with farming. Thus, with my Dad having an agri-brokerage, many of them would come to the office to learn or become a client. There isn’t a player from 1997-2005 that I haven’t met that played for the Sharks. I was able to meet my heroes all the time.

…cricket is my second religion, but rugby without a doubt is my #1 sport

What was odd, is that I never played rugby for my school in South Africa, but at home I was either playing cricket or had a rugby ball recreating the moments for the game. Football was there, but it has never been my passion sport. I love Tottenham, but I would rather see the Sharks lift the Super Rugby than watch Spurs win the Champions League, even if I know more about Tottenham right now than the Sharks. It’s true.

Recently I’ve been chatting to non-rugby fans about the sport and I know that I still smile when I’m explaining the sport to them or what’s going on in the world cup. Seriously everyone should watch the Quarter-Finals this weekend, especially with Japan vs South Africa which South Africa, is no doubt the bad guys. Either they knock-out the incredible hosts who have class beyond class or become the team that lost to Japan twice in a row at the World Cup. Japan have been playing some of the classiest rugby this tournament and where

There’s Wales vs France, with Wales being France’s Australia and the French team, being…well French. This is a good point to point out that my favourite player of all time is Thierry Dusautoir, the former French captain. I never saw play in the flesh unfortunately, but anytime I saw that the French team was playing, I made sure that I could at least watch the extended highlights. I model my modest school playing career on him and Richie McCaw. Dusautoir is the embodiment of rugby in mind. He went to university and got a degree as a chemical engineer. He was incredibly polite on and off the pitch. He was a tackle monster for Les Blues racking up record 38 tackles (and he scored France’s try) in the 2011 final against New Zealand, where I still think Craig Joubert was affected by the home crowd and not calling some of the blatant off-sides by the All-Blacks. He still had the grace on pitch to just get on with the game and show the entire world what rugby is about. Playing hard, with respect for the opposition and the referee. His performance in that game probably sealed world player of the year, even if other players won more trophies that year, no one has got close to replicating a performance of the pitch that Dusautoir displayed that night. Thinking about the few times that I have “fan-girled” have involved Christine Amanpour, meeting God (aka Sachin Tendulkar) & the rest of the Indian team and whenever I get to meet a Springbok. However, I have no clue what will happen if I ever see Dusautoir in the flesh. I only imagine is that I lose the ability to speak.

Alright enough about the great man, let’s continue with the France Wales game. Wales should win, but honestly is the French team can play like Freddie Michalak (Michalak is one of my favourite players, also French, as he played for the Sharks and embodies French rugby to a tee! He was decent player, not bad but acceptable at this level of rugby. However, for around 10 minutes a game he was world class. His footwork, kicking, ability to spot a pass was second to none. He was France. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he would return to normal as though he had shown the world what he could do and that was it. And yes, that is a very biased look back on him, but I don’t care. He helped us win the Currie Cup. Ummm back to the French team) does for 10 minutes a game for say more than 30 minutes, they could cause an upset; even if the captain doesn’t know he is the captain (yes, that’s not a joke. It happened)

I have no clue what will happen if I ever see Dusautoir in the flesh. I only imagine is that I lose the ability to speak.

England are playing Australia which should be a comfortable win for the English in my opinion. Any chance of Australia winning relies on the magic of Beale and their captain Michael Hooper playing the perfect game in the breakdown. While they can do so, they will face an England squad who could go on and win the tournament, if they don’t play the All-Blacks in the semi-final (I can’t see Eddie Jones going past the Kiwi’s). Why? The England team can and would take the game to the All-Blacks, even if they didn’t have Eddie Jones as the coach. However, even though Owen Farrell is the one of the many star players of the England squad, it’s his temperament and ability to manage the game that will determine how far England go in the tournament.

Honestly, I could go on and on. Even if I don’t have a broad knowledge of the sport now. However, if you stuck on Uruguayan second division amateur rugby in front of, I’ll probably watch the entire game. I don’t care how skilful the game is or how big the tackles are. I love the sport.