my notions of ‘a great sports tradition’ has changed. for the better.
first things first. soccer, or should i say football, is the world’s sport. and every four years, you will find me in front of a television screen for a solid month watching the world cup. english premiere league is pretty good, too. football has the advantage of playing year-round, but typically i am not bound by it. (*note: mls does not count at all in this conversation.)
i am a fan of cricket, too. of course it is not an american (or should i say u.s.) sport, but i grew up watching a group of men in white clothing play every sunday afternoon, and i have fond memories of my dad and godfather sharing stories of playing cricket in jamaica. somehow people use baseball as a comparison, but that is wholly inaccurate. there is a bat and a ball…beyond that, there is not much between the two sports that are shared.
and then there is rugby. for the longest time i just thought that the sport was violent, and a bit backwards. and by ‘backwards’ i do not in the caveman way; rather quite literally, things seem to move backwards–there is no such thing as a forward pass. my college football/nfl sentiments hit a road block at any connection. no forward pass, no four downs, no special teams, no padding…who are these rugby people?
probably the best damn athletes out there, that’s who.
if you have not caught on so far, i have recently fallen in love with this game. quite early into this newfound relationship, someone recited the following truism to me: “soccer is a gentleman’s game played by scoundrels (not sure if that was the proper word, but i like it) and rugby is a scoundrel’s game played by gentlemen.” i absolutely buy it. none of the flopping and whining that is bound to happen in football (both kinds), but a tough, physical skirmish between men with an uncanny yet profound reverence toward the game.
and about these men…
we’re not talking about lanky, easily caught in the wind, 120lbs-when-wet kind of characters. truthfully, this description does not fit the bill for any of the aforementioned sports. YahooAnswers says the following about rugby guys:
Front Rows (Props and Hooker) are generally shorter with large, powerful legs. Usually, in the area of 5’8, 220lbs.
Second Rows (Locks) tend to be the most well built players in terms of overall size. They have long, muscular legs along with great upper body strength. Usually from about 6’0 to 6’6, and once again, in the area of 220lbs. Most locks are about 6’1-6’2 however.
Flankers are generally shorter, but well built with great lower body strength. In the area of 5’8-5’10 usually, with a weight of 200lbs.
Number 8 (Back Row) is usually the tallest player, standing at LEAST 6’1, most are around 6’4-6’6, and weigh in at about 210lbs, though some may be heavier depending on their build.
Centres and Wings are shorter and leaner, at 5’6 to 6’0, weighing in anywhere from 150 to 180lbs. Fullbacks, Scrumhalf and Flyhalf are generally a bit larger (but shorter), at 5’5 to 5’9, weighing in from 160 to 190lbs.
by the way, there are fifteen to a team. yeah.
two world cup semi-final matches are on this weekend: wales and france play in the first match, and australia against new zealand on sunday. the catch? it is a 4a start time on the east coast.
you had me at the haka. sign me up.