Notes on the Rugby World Cup Final (and why I can’t lose)

A quick post on this event because it’s the only important thing over here at the moment* and it’s a matchup between my home nation and my adopted nation. But first, some groundwork:

Rugby is not my favourite sport, and thus, this game isn’t as important to me as it is to a lot of other people, for whom rugby is their favourite sport.

I do live in South Africa, but I am English. Therefore, I support South Africa in each and every sport and endeavour, unless they are playing against England, in which case, I support England. This is not an unreasonable stance: if any Saffas want to take issue with it (and there’s usually at least one who does), then they should consider their approach on an equivalent scenario should they be living in the UK. But then, even if they foolishly and disingenuously argue that they would drop the Springboks and follow England religiously, I still think my method makes sense.

It makes sense to me, anyway. And that’s really all that matters.

So yes, despite being in South Africa and being surrounded by South Africans tomorrow, I will be supporting England, cheering them on, hoping they are successful in tackling, running and scoring, and generally feeling optimistic that they will win the game. (A little assistance for anyone that hasn’t quite grasped the idea of “supporting”, there.)

But… (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) because of my lack of passion for egg-chasing generally, and because I’ve been here for almost 16 years now, I’m not 100% invested in my choice of prospective winner. If it were football and I’d only been here for a few weeks, I would be, but it’s not football and this is my home, so I’m not.
For context, the “big game” for me this weekend is Sheffield United v Burnley.

What I’m saying (and here, you might argue that I’m getting a bit soppy) is that because of the absolute state that SA is in at the moment, because we are faced literally each and every day with ever more tales of crime, corruption, general misery and impending economic disaster, I would dearly love a bit of good news. We all would.

It’s an old adage that sport unites, but it really is true. The passion and support that the Springboks’ World Cup run has generated has brought the nation together – it always does – and left the naysayers at the extremes of the political spectrum outnumbered and thankfully, thoroughly outvoiced.

And so, should South Africa defy the odds and lift the trophy tomorrow, I will really not mind too much. More than anything since JZ resigned as President, and more than anything until JZ is convicted on all those corruption charges, that would really make a huge positive difference to this repeatedly battered nation.

In conclusion, I really can’t lose tomorrow*.
I might as well just drink beer and have a good time.

 

* T&Cs apply

Borrowed tweet sums me up

England beat Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter final:

I mean… it’s great. Well done, boys and all that, but… that’s about all.

I will be happy with two more wins in the competition, but my Alan Partridge shrug will remain.

The World Cup win

I’ve been quite surprised at the online reaction to England’s Cricket World Cup win last night. So many calls that Stokes’ inadvertent extra boundary shouldn’t have counted, or should have counted for less (fewer?); so many people saying that the final outcome being decided by the number of boundaries in the game was “unfair” or “too arbitrary”.

Allow me a couple of points, if you will.

Firstly, it’s fine to be irrational, as long as you know you’re being irrational. Sport brings out the irrational side in a lot of people, and yesterday’s game encouraged it even more simply because it was so spectacular, so topsy-turvy, so big: and so damn close. The fact that it was played in such great spirit and with such gracious sportsmanship only adds to the emotion, and to the belief that neither side deserved to lose: that they should have simply declared it a draw (which is clearly hugely irrational, but it’s ok, because I know that I’m doing it).

Secondly, it’s really not “unfair” or “arbitrary” to decide a game in any given manner, just so long as the participants are aware of the rules ahead of time. It would be ridiculous to get to a tie at the end of the Super Over and then choosing a method to decide the winner. I’m sure that no-one could have believed that it would ever come down to how many boundaries each team had scored, but since there was a chance that it might, maybe Kane Williamson (yes, lovely guy) should have rallied his team to score more boundaries. Mind you, since this is kind of the aim of the batting side in cricket generally, I’m not sure why they weren’t trying to do this anyway.

It’s unfair (and irrational) to cherry pick the method of deciding the game only once one gets to the stage where one has to. But still, people thought they’d give it a go. Some other suggestions to decide the game might have been: using the result in the round robin matches (England would have won), the overall net run rate (England would have won), relative positions in the ten team league (England would have won), wickets lost in the Super Over (England would have won), overall boundaries scored in the tournament (England would have won).

But those all seem to have been ignored, with many people seeming to have settled on the number of wickets lost in the 50-over final, which conveniently would have meant that New Zealand took the match, and with it, the World Cup. Of course, it we’d all known about that up front, presumably both captains would likely have encouraged their side to try and lose fewer wickets (which is – again – pretty standard stuff unless you’re raking in some dollars in from some dodgy bookmakers).

Of course, it simply comes down to anti-England sentiment. Which is why we have to hear about all the different original nationalities of the players every time we play.

Everyone: England should accept more immigrants and put them in positions of responsibility.
ECB does it.
Everyone: Not like that.

And which, of course, is rather irrational.

But we’ve covered that already, haven’t we?

So here’s a photo of the World Cup winning team, full of diversity (except that they’re all men, obviously), who scored more boundaries than their opposition yesterday.

Well done, boys!

The Groot Upload

I extracted the SD card from the camera to upload the photos from this weekend’s Cape Town 7s experience and was immediately confronted by all (or more) of the photos I took last weekend. These hadn’t been uploaded because the intervening 7 days were chaotically busy.

So, I sorted that, and you can see the results here.

From there, it was a fairly straightforward leap to yesterday’s amazing day out at the stadium. My photos are here.

Obviously, I don’t know what sort of show the Dubai or Edinburgh or Nuuk (?) 7s put on, but I have to say that what Cape Town does seems to be very well received by all those involved. (Although of course they’re hardly likely to turn around and slag the place off in these days of mutual ego massaging.) The atmosphere was amazing, the entertainment was superb, the rugby was absorbing and even the final was balanced upon a knife-edge right up to the final kick. This being my kids first 7s experience, it was always going to be that way – never forget Alex’s first footy match was a 7-0, and their first cricket match finished with an incredible SA win off the last ball after a missed run out opportunity.

This time around, England were the beneficiaries of the last minute miss, and really the only disappointment of the day was how few people stayed around to see the trophy presentation. ‘Bad losers’ might be a bit harsh, but after the phenomenal support and sporting reception given to all the teams throughout the day, that extra 10 minutes would have made a big difference, especially given just how tight that last game was. Sadly, all the photos of England’s presentation and celebration are against a backdrop of empty seats. That’s not how it was for the previous 9 hours, nor how it should have been for the last ten minutes.

As Tom Mitchell stepped up to take this second half conversion right in front of us, I remarked on how important it was going to be, and so it proved, being the 2 point difference between the teams at the end.

Sevens

We spent the whole day at the Cape Town Sevens at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town.

It was great entertainment, England won, and then the mardy Cape Town crowd deserted the Cape Town Stadium before the presentation of the trophy.

We stayed to watch. Then we had a look at the inside of a parking garage for a while.

Many photos (not of the garage). Tomorrow.