At Red Alert we are committed to making sure that political issues are debated through the period of the Rugby World Cup. It falls to us as the mainstream media abandon the day to day of politics for anything related to rugby. The writing was on the wall the other night when both major TV networks led with the naming of the All Black team to play Tonga.
Having said that, we here in the ship of social democracy are capable of thinking about more than one thing at a time, and for me, and some other colleagues we might just have a wee tad of interest in the Cup. So we will do some brief posts along the way.
So to start, what should folks be looking for in terms of rugby in the first few weeks of the tournament?
- massive score blowouts as the big teams (think us, England, Aussie, South Africa etc) play the minnows of the rugby world, Georgia, Russia, USA etc (yep the power balance in rugby is pretty much the inverse of geo-politics).
- wailing and gnashing of teeth that the All Blacks still don’t look quite right. (This will happen whether they do or not).
- the possible rise of the Pacific nations. I think Samoa, Tonga and to a lesser extent Fiji will be the big movers of the early rounds. The Pacific teams are now stacked with players who ply their trade in the Northern Hemisphere competitions. Combined with a bit of local and NZ based talent, they will be tough opponents for anyone. Fiji and Samoa sprang surprises four years ago in France, and they now have an even bigger base of professional players.
My suggestion for getting through the first few weeks of the tournament is pick yourself an underdog team and live your life through them. The All Blacks will be fine in pool play, give someone else a go too. Then rejoice as the Georgians actually score a try, or the Romanians hold Scotland to half a cricket score. And then when they play each other- there is the chance of a win!
Ah, it is exciting isn’t it? Now, move along, nothing to see here, back to the politics….