You may have noticed some big burly men throwing an egg-shaped ball around on TV lately. For those of you living outside of a public school in England or, for some reason, France, you may be wondering quite why this is. Accordingly, here is a quick primer on what you ought to know about rugby. 

Scrum down? 

The first thing to know about rugby is quite how much happens that you cannot, for the life of you, see. This is, we are told, a spectator sport.

The best players are known for an incomprehensible reason as either ‘jackals’ or ‘masters of the dark arts’ despite being neither animals or having attended Hogwarts.

And just because we can’t see what’s going on, doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

Whether in a srcum – think 16 men have all lost a penny in the same place and are now fighting over it, while bent over – or at ‘the breakdown’ whether the best players are known for an incomprehensible reason as either ‘jackals’ or ‘masters of the dark arts’ despite being neither animals or having attended Hogwarts, you can be very sure that you’ll have no frickin’ idea what’s happening.

Luckily, that’s what the commentators are there for – to use their X-Ray vision to make something up about where the ball is hiding beneath six 18-stone men.

(That’s a lot of kg, if you were wondering.)

A game of stereotypes

The French rugby team is always the epitome of ‘gallic flair’, but unfortunately it’s also always the epitome of ‘choking’. Except when they play New Zealand who they have a strange debilitating effect on.

England are big and like pushing each other.

Wales like running around and singing.

New Zealand are big scary men who are also very fast.

Italy are frustrated footballers.

Everyone is slightly confused by the presence of Russia.

Argentina are slightly better frustrated footballers.

Scotland just used to be good, back when in t’old days when it was a semi-professional sport.

The dancing

Don’t call it dancing. It’s the Haka (at least when New Zealand do it, and you should be very scared and deferential.) The other Pacific Island nations also have cool equivalents like the Samoan Siva Tau that don’t get anywhere near enough press.

What’s with the little countries?

So the hope is always that they might get good. Unfortunately this hasn’t really happened. This is a huge surprise to the international rugby authorities who can’t work out why a) some countries get worse when they don’t get to play matches against the good teams and get their best players stolen by the big boys at the age of 12 or b) why Namibia are still rubbish even despite getting, erm, absolutely no money from World Rugby.

Jokes one cannot make

“There’s a position called hooker, giggle.”
“Isn’t that handball?”
“Like cricket, this game is much easier if you were once invaded by the British.”

And finally

“It is funny how bad the USA are. None of this namby-pamby NFL helmet business. Let’s ignore the fact that people keep being taken off with concussion – that’s nothing to worry about.”

Cover photo: MM+D (Flickr), Licence: CC by NC-ND 2.0

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    Samuele Volpe is a real person of age and location undisclosed. For all enquiries please hire a private detective. Or follow him on Twitter @samuelevolpe

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