So the official NFL season kicked off this past week. I have but one thing to say about that: who cares? The football season is long, and right now there are much more important sports events going on.
It’s the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup!!
I played rugby union in college and grad school. I eventually had to quit after a car accident (I was a passenger) injured the nerves in my left arm. If I get hit wrong, I can permanently lose function. Being a lefty, this is not an option for me, so no more rugby playing. But I love the game. It’s a rough sport, but I do love it so.
Needless to say, I’m quite excited about the Rugby World Cup. It’s only every 4 years, so the last one was in 2003. Back in 2003, I had no option to see any games on TV. The cable company I was with didn’t offer any international sports channels. Fortunately, things have changed. I get to watch a whole bunch of Rugby World Cup games LIVE. Yes, live. W00T!!
Last night was the opening ceremonies (live!) from France and the first match of the round robin in the pool phase. Quick lesson: the first phase is the pool phase, with 4 pools of 5 teams each. For each match, teams earn points that ultimately determine their ranking in the pool. This phase will last the entire month of September. Next are the quarter finals, where the winner and runner up from each pool compete. The quarter finals are knock-out rounds, so if you lose, that’s it. The semifinals determine who plays for the actual Webb Ellis Cup. The winners of the semis play in the championship match, and the losers play in the Bronze Final. The championship Final match is scheduled for October 20th. Got all that? Good. Moving on.
The first match last night was France, the host team, versus Argentina. Back when I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a few months as an intern after college, I had the opportunity to see Argentina play Wales. I was not all that impressed. But that was 1999. Since then, Argentina has stepped it up and become an international powerhouse of a team, but they’ve never made it past the pool phase of the tournament. France has always been strong. They’re often in the quarter finals. So imagine the surprise when Argentina won!! What an upset. It was a big win for Argentina. They essentially dominated the game, helped considerably by the errors made by France that resulted in turnovers in Argentina’s favor. But the score was still close (12 to 17) so wow was it an exciting game.
Today I watched the USA Eagles lose to England. OK, they didn’t just lose, they got pounded and lost 28 to 10. This is not surprising. One, because England is the defending World Cup champions (a big deal…first Northern Hemisphere team to win…usually the Southern Hemisphere teams like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand dominate). Two, team USA kind of sucks. Rugby is not a big US sport at all, so our national team is a bit neglected. We just don’t have the depth or breadth of players to pull together a powerhouse team. It’s sad. But as a nation we tend to focus on football (that’s “gridiron” for the rest of the world), and we’re starting to focus a bit on soccer, too. Rugby just doesn’t get enough interest from us as a nation for us to really compete in the international arena. That’s too bad.
Ultimately, my favorite team is the Australian Wallabies. So GO AUSTRALIA!! Redeem thyself after your disappointing loss to England in the finals in 2003. I have faith in you.