Everyone’s an expert now

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

There’s a new Rugby World Cup phenomenon around, and no it isn’t how far the French managed to get. This phenomenon is  a sort of confessional appearing in workplaces around the country…the conversation generally runs along the lines of “I never usually watch rugby, but…” followed by an impassioned discourse on that red card to Wales, Ireland beating the pants off the Aussies, how impressive the AB’s young guns are, or the finer points of a rolling maul.

I have to say that while most of my rugby confessionals have been with other women, I’m proud to say that I also know a few blokes who don’t usually know one end of a rugby field from the other, and they too are getting knowledgeable. I use knowledgeable with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheekness  – when a bunch of people who know nothing about rugby start talking about rugby, no-one else in the group can prove them wrong. For example, I have yet to meet anyone who knows exactly what is supposed to happen in a scrum, however I have been present at serious-faced conversations about the various pack weights.

Prior to this tournament, the only time I have ever remembered a scrum is when I was a bit homesick and watched an AUS/NZ game, Tri-Nations I think, on TV from the good old House of Pain, Carisbrook. The scrum was memorable because they were playing in sleet at the time, and enough steam was rising from the scrum pack to run a medium-sized steam engine.  We won, our boys being slightly more used to playing in such conditions. I think the Aussie captain got hypothermia.

For newbies to the rugby chat, it’s useful if you’ve heard, and managed to remember, a bit of the commentary from the game you just watched. Even if the commentators are talking rampant nonsense, at least you’ll sound vaguely knowledgeable.  A quick trip through the online newspapers to the Sports Pages can also be a good source of handy factoids. I have been one who never, ever glanced at the sports pages, but now I am reading the reviews and summaries along with the best of them.

I have even had conversations with my venerable 82 year old Eastbourne Aunt, who prior to the tournament, might have known that there was a sport called rugby, but that would have been the extent of her interest. Possibly because I have been working on the tournament, she has taken more of an interest – initially just to be polite, but the fever has grown and now we actually converse about the AB’s chances and other teams demise. (She was sorry to see gallant Wales chucked out of the tournament by a mere one point). You’ll be pleased to hear that we now feel, after serious consideration, my Aunt and I,  that the All Blacks are likely to come out on top, and we are genteelly quite pleased about that.

It’s been fun to have random rugby conversations, not only with friends, but also with complete strangers. Often, the chat starts along the lines of “have you been following the rugby?” then plunges in to an analysis of the various refereeing styles, followed by an expression of sympathy for Dan Carter. Does the poor boy really want the whole world talking about his groin? Probably not.  I have had great chats with taxi drivers, movers, shopkeepers, remedial massage therapists (ok, only one) and no doubt with my hairdresser when I get there next.

These chats have turned out to be one of the unexpected joys of the tournament – everyone is going a little bit rugby nuts at the moment, and you’re missing out if you don’t join in. Go the ABs!!


Photos from websites


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