We’ve had the friendlies, now it’s time for the real deal. The Rugby World Cup is coming to a Freeview screen near you.
For the novice rugby-watcher, the mounting interest in rugby as a topic of conversation can be an alarming prospect. What’s a maul? What’s a ruck? What does the hooker do?! Luckily, as chatter ramps up, there are a few simple tricks to get your comments on target like Leigh Halfpenny’s right foot. Or even his left one. (Before he was unfortunately ruled out due to injury).
Be overzealous with national pride. In the context of rugby, your love for Wales, for example, is allowed to evolve into distaste for all things English. Even if your best friend is English. Even if your other half is English. It’s good form, in fact.
To support this, know your nation’s song. Rugby fans often resort to song at some point during a game so it’s vital to be able to join in. Nothing will please your Welsh friends more than if you lead a rendition of Cwm Rhondda. Flower of Scotland will get your Scottish pals off their seats and Swing Low will get an English crowd going. And, bellow out to friends across the Irish Sea with Ireland’s Call.
Learn some buzzwords. If the match descends into a ruck, demonstrate your deep understanding of the chaotic sprawl of limbs by casually commenting; “he’s holding on” or “off his feet”! This insight will flag you as observant, and gain you the respect of your peers. A scrum offers no such opportunity for expert analysis as the action is impossible for even the referee to follow.
Never evaluate the authenticity of a player’s injury. Unlike football, if a rugby player is down, he is in need of immediate medical attention. To put it in perspective, Wayne Shelford, the former All Blacks No. 8, had a very unfortunate muscle tear when playing against France… and played on. Dida, the AC Milan football team goalkeeper, was carried off pitch after he was flicked on the cheek by a fan. Just don’t go there.
Finally, the Haka, bizarre to a newcomer in many ways, is best met with appreciation, rather than humour. It’s a traditional ancestral war cry performed by the New Zealand team, probably the best rugby playing nation of all time – they can pretty much do what they want. Although England player, Richard Cockerill, felt differently back in 2007.
If you’re feeling comfortable with the rugby chat, offering a few World Cup predictions is a good way to lead the conversation. With two home nations caught in the ‘pool of death’, the tournament looks to be a bitter struggle for Wales and England from the start. Scotland and Ireland have it a little easier and should make the quarterfinals, where they’ll meet stiff southern hemisphere competition. But ultimately, it is sure to be an All Black victory, with New Zealand’s Julien Savea becoming the overall top try scorer. You heard it here first.
If you want a more educated preview of how the teams might do this year, check out The Guardian’s opinion here, and here’s a good article by The Telegraph on which players to keep an eye out for this year.
You can watch every match live on ITV or ITV4, here’s the full 2015 Rugby World Cup TV schedule. And of course, should you experience disruption to your Freeview services over the next couple of months of rugby, and beyond, do not hesitate to give us a call.