Why I love rugby

March 25, 2015 11:03
Rugby enthusiasts are friendly to each other in a way not seen in other major sports. Photos: godadgo.com.au, hkrugby.com

Do you remember falling in love with rugby? Simply writing an article on the topic has been an illuminating experience... at times the sport is described as the most genteel sport on Earth.

While it's true that tackles are hard and fast, players do their best to avoid injuring their colleagues, and mutual respect is considered a must in the organized community. It's telling that rugby players do not wear armor.

If anything the camaraderie is even more palpable in the stands, in bars and on the streets among the fans; rugby enthusiasts are friendly to each other in a way not seen in other major sports.

The opposing teams mix together before, during and after contentious matches while in other sports merely cheering your team at the wrong time and place is grounds for physical assault.

Hooliganism is nearly non-existent in rugby. Instead fans take to wearing silly costumes and engaging in various amusing antics in the stands, where entire families can be spotted sitting together. 

And the entire family does get involved, with women's leagues, and little leagues for girls and boys, not just the big, burly men!

And it all centers around a sport of near-seamless action and constant energy, with frequent scorings and collisions. A contact sport where prideful tribes of competitive supporters remain civil and friendly to each other -- who would have thought that such a thing can exist!

But at least one person disagrees with this view vehemently, and has gathered over a thousand followers on Facebook under the title "I bet I can find a thousand people who hate rugby." [See here]

The man has accused rugby fans of being bullies, and is fed up with "being forced to play rugby", perhaps he was forced to play rugby against his will at school. 

Other -- and more coherent -- critics complain that rugby fans are snobs who consider themselves both morally and physically superior to other sports fans. 

From my observation of the activity and community, there could be some grounds to make such claims of superiority. But the rugby fans I have met do not seem overly prideful of it, though there are the occasional rugby fans online who diss similar sports as inferior.

What is 'Rugby Sevens' anyway? It's merely a lean and mean version of rugby, with less than half the players and thus twice as much space to run amok. [hkrugby.com]

The defensive structure of the teams is reduced so much that it makes Rugby Fifteens look slow in comparison, and that's not even mentioning the speed at which American Football moves.

The game is engineered to be smooth and energetic, every kickoff is like an onside kick, the stoppages are all rebooted as fast as possible and the game keeps running even if possession of the ball is lost, meaning lightning quick counters at any point. If you have the ball you can score!

In 2016 Rugby Sevens will be included in the Olympics, and is expected to enjoy an even more robust growth in the time to come. But before that, right here, right now, the Sevens World Cup will be held in Hong Kong from the 27th to the 29th this month.

I wanted to buy a ticket as soon as I started researching. I really did! Alas, they are all gone -- I hope the early birds enjoy their spoils!

Now, when the time comes, I think I will go to a bar close to the stadium and watch the games on TV to see if the fans are really as fun as advertised. It should be interesting.

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While tackles are hard and fast, players do their best to avoid injuring each other in rugby games. Photo: hkrugby.com

A Hong Kong-based writer from Norway