Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Sunshiners Guide to the Rugby World Cup by Ciarán Duffy

I love going to the RDS on a Friday evening, or Saturday or Sunday, but there’s something special about the Friday kickoffs.  You can’t help but feel like a real rugby fan in a way when you’re sitting there on a cold rainy Friday night when your there to cheer on a Leinster team made up of 2nd and 3rd choice players against one of the minnows.  It makes the European Cup quarter Finals and Pro14 semis even more enjoyable when you’ve been through the games that were just grinded out in ugly style.  You earn your chips that day, be they curry or garlic cheese (or both on what some might consider too many occasions for me). And just like you earned those chips, you have earned the World Cup.  

All those fans who get to every game they can, and when they can’t they are watching them, and when they can’t watch them, they are getting updates.  Every season I hear a story of somebody going to a wedding over the weekend of a big game and looking for somewhere nearby to watch the match (Personally I would never marry anybody who didn’t understand the importance of a wedding not clashing with a rugby match but I suppose some people just have low standards).  There’s something special about being a fan who follows the team through it all.  

I started going to Leinster games during the campaign Leinster first won the European Cup.  There were a few years of being the very best with trophies every season, and then things took a dip.  In the bad days there were very few people in the RDS to see us play Zebre. But those who tough it out through the bad days enjoy the good days more, because they understand what they mean.  

I don’t feel like a glory hunter for supporting Leinster.  Partially because I support them because it’s my home, I’m about a half an hour away from the RDS on the DART.  I have a connection with the team. And that will be the case whether we are the strongest team in the league as we are now, or the strongest team in the league in the sense we hold everybody else up.  Leinster are my team. The other reason is the two other loves of my life; Bray Wanderers and Charlton Athletic, aren’t exactly world beaters. But if ever there’s a time when they are, it’ll mean more because of what has been.  Just like how the 2018 European Cup (I’m honestly not sure what we are supposed to call it now) meant the world because of those seasons e could barely make it past the quarter finals.  

We can’t all be diehards.  And that’s fine. I don’t see a problem with people only having a passing interest in a sport.  Naturally people who don’t have a great knowledge of the game will have their interest peaked around this time of the year, as they will when Ireland play England, or it’s and interprovincial derby.  Sure I know very little about hockey, but I was sitting there watching the Ireland womens hockey team win a penalty shootout and make the World Cup Final. And why shouldn’t I be. Why shouldn’t I support a great sporting achievement for my country.  Sports there to be enjoyed, and not everybody needs to be an expert.  

But of course, there are some who task themselves with showing up only on the day of a big game, and giving the impression they invented the sport.  They’ll tell you about how they knew one of the players (and in turn acted as an inspiration for one of them). These are the sunshiners. When things are going bad they never liked rugby anyway.  But when it becomes fashionable, it’s always been their life.  

It’s not easy bullshi *Record Scratch* Am I allowed say that word on this blog?  Jeff? Am I allowed say that bs word? Jeff? Jeff? Answer me Jeff or I’ll call to your house in the dead of night and ask in person. 

[EDITOR'S NOTE - we can allow it 😜]

Where was I? 

Oh yeah. 

It’s not easy pretending bullshitting you know everything to try impress people so they think you’re cool.  So I’m here to help. Sunshiners, some advice. 

You want to show you know the game right?  Well then you gotta show you know the names.  Casually drop in a “I’d have had the ROGmyster on the kicks”, or a “Is Brian O’Driscoll not playing?”  And make sure you really emphasize the name, pause then really hit it hard so everybody knows you mean business.  

Use big fancy words
Studies have shown there is a link between shoehorning big words unnecessarily into a sentence and having done well in the Junior Cert.  So make sure you don’t simplify. Pass? I believe you mean he propelled the ball. Knock-On? No, ‘his initial motion toward the oval wasn’t sufficient in retaining possession and instead the oval has gone in front of him’.  While you’re at it, everything that can be said in one sentence should be made into 12 sentences.  

Look the part 
I know normally you only wear a v-neck and a wool hat indoors, but you’ve gotta spruce up a little.  Buy yourself a brand new All Black shirt, and for now on refer to New Zeland as ABLand. And bring your tracksuit bottoms in case anybody once to throw the ball around afterwards.  

Explain the rules just after the rules have been explained 
Rugby is complicated, does anybody really know when to call a mark?  So wait until after the commentator has explained a decision and then say “What he means there is______” and repeat what the commentator just said.  A thesaurus is a good tool here just to change up a rule.  

Bring a stupid friend 
What better way to look smart than to bring a big thick eejit and sit them beside you.  Sure most friendships exist purely to make one party seem smart. Preferably he’d be shorter than you and not the best looking fella either.  

There’s never a bad time to shoehorn in a political conversation 
Between and All-Island Ireland team, and England, Wales, and Scotland, why not just mention BREXIT every couple of minutes.  And the USA are there, make the odd Trump joke. Some will argue people just want to forget the world and watch some sport, but you know they want to be entertained.  

Gap Year 
There’s gotta be a country in here some where you visited once.  Tell them how you became a brand new person after your parents paid for you to go on a trip around the place.  And make sure to tell everybody else they haven’t lived and they have to go.  

If in doubt, say something gas
You can’t risk being caught out, so pull out the jokes.  I mean there’s a position called hooker, you can use that surely.  And the word ball is a potential goldmine.  Throw in a “He looks ready to prop til he drops”.  And when you’re going to the bar make sure to ask: “Anybody want another pint, OR SIX” then stare at them with your mouth open until they laugh.  

And above all else 
Make sure you let everybody know you played rugby for the seniors in school and got the shift on so many away trips.  

For the rest of us, let’s enjoy the Rugby World Cup.  There’s only one to look forward to every two years (no I’m not wrong the women have a world cup too, last final was really entertaining).  Whatever happens, support your team and enjoy the games. It’s worth getting up at the crack of dawn to watch this special tournament. Hopefully Ireland do us all proud.  

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Ciarán is the Producer and Presenter of Post to Post Sport (@PostToPostSport), a sports podcast that covers rugby, football, wrestling, and Irish Sport News. You can get their podcasts on MixCloud our Spotify (Search PostToPostSport) and PlayerFM (Post to Post Sport).

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Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019