Having seen Ron's last post, of a couple of sports people having a bit of disagreement, I was reminded of a similar difference of opinion that happened at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The two parties involved were the Canadian team and the South African team, and their dispute began when one of the South African players took exception to one of the Canadian players putting his fist in his face. Or perhaps it was the other way round...
For the past couple of weeks, the Rugby World Cup has been in full swing, but thanks to England's abysmal performances, my enthusiasm for the event has been somewhat muted. Watching them play South Africa reminded me of my own time playing the sport as a teenager. Playing for the Alton Under 15s, once a week we'd get to play the Under 14s. Although we were all still kids, some of the older players were bigger than some adults I know now. Anyway, despite the fact we all represented the same club, this regular 'friendly' was played with fierce competitiveness. However, we always won. It was completely unfair, but was fun, nevertheless.
Watching England go down 36 points to nothing made me realise what it must have felt like to be one of the Under 14s. No matter how hard they tried, they were faced with an almost impossible task. South Africa played like a team of highly organised professionals. England, meanwhile, looked as if someone had grabbed 15 random blokes from the local pub, given them white shirts and dumped them on the pitch.
Since then, England have won the rest of the games, but unconvincingly. I almost feel sorry for them. But not for the Under 14s. They deserved it.
This year, the Rugby World Cup will be taking place in France. When I was a teenager, this would have been a great source of excitement. Both the anticipation in the run up the cup and then the event itself would make heart beat so fast it hurt. These days, it will probably provide no more than a vague distraction.
The problem is, unless youre able to pay for subscription based television, you cant follow the game in England. Although take-up of such services is increasing here, its still not the norm. Most people have analogue five-channel TV, or Digital Freeview, which consists of a fairly basic selection of channels. For this reason, Ive really lost interest in rugby over the years.
But thats not the only reason Im feeling underwhelmed by the imminent World Cup. The fact is England are looking increasingly likely to get beaten by just about everyone. Ever since they won the last World Cup (after which some of the best players and the coach quit), theyve been totally abysmal. Most recently, theyve been on tour in South Africa, being made to look like amateurs.
Like I say, I dont really follow the game that much these days, but Ive decided Im going to be making a conscious effort to watch the World Cup. However, I have a feeling Ill watching Englands games through the gaps in my fingers.