Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rugby Now

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    I think at the end of this winter I’ll be ditching my Sky subscription and joining the local bowling club so I have somewhere to go to watch the odd game.

    Now that is not a bad idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I've had a general decline in interest in all televized sport. I used to like the Olympics, but for the last couple I haven't even bothered. I put it down to excessive professionalism. Essentially, the whole point of it seems lost. To me, sport was a part of life that encompassed some healthy values, but I don't see any of these values embodied any more (in professional sport). I see a machine that generates freaks, chews them up and spits them out.

    I don't want my own kids anywhere near toxic rugby culture. The natural choice for local high school is Kelston, but I have no intention of sending my frail son to a school where a pupil was beaten to death by a couple of guys whose identities we are not even allowed to know because they are promising rugby players.

    My ambitions for my kids is to have a well-rounded interest in sport via participation. If one of them excels, fine, but the ultimate aim is for them to develop healthy bodies and habits, teamwork skills and hopefully some lasting friendships. Rugby is particularly unlikely as a choice, since it's basically an injury fest. You don't see too many guys my age playing rugby, their participation in the sport is sitting around in shitty bars drinking beer and reliving their glory days, and making homophobic and racist slurs the whole time, while the soccer guys are still running around actually doing their sport. It's not at all inclusive of women.

    Yes, the cultural touchstone aspect is there, but it's fading fast. Last time there was an All Blacks test that I intended to enjoy with mates, I think only one guy there actually sat and watched it consistently. It felt hollow and unenjoyable. We absolutely thrashed whoever it was, and it wasn't some second string team, was like Oz or something. Don't remember, don't care. I think we might well have re-engaged the party by switching over to YouTube and watching Fails or something. Which everyone, including the kids, could appreciate. They could also participate, making picks of their own.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    You don't see too many guys my age playing rugby, their participation in the sport is sitting around in shitty bars drinking beer and reliving their glory days, and making homophobic and racist slurs the whole time, while the soccer guys are still running around actually doing their sport.

    In Britain, that's pretty much the other way round. People interested in soccer spend their time hanging out in shitty pubs and making homophobic and racist slurs. Nothing to do with the code - it's a problem that will attach itself to the mainstream/working class sport in any country.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Nothing to do with the code – it’s a problem that will attach itself to the mainstream/working class sport in any country.

    Yes, a lot do that. But when I say you don't see "many" guys my age playing rugby, I actually meant I NEVER see it. Whereas middle aged guys playing soccer, I know half a dozen guys. The die-hard-est rugger fan mate of mine joined a club about 5 years ago for a bit, got hurt badly during the training and games and that was basically the end of it. Said he went for after drinks one time, got called a pussy and a faggot and decided that actually, there was literally nothing in it for him any more. Whereas every other sport I've ever done (well OK apart from kickboxing, which also has a strongly professional element to it), had at least one old fart giving it a go and getting something out of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yes, a lot do that. But when I say you don’t see “many” guys my age playing rugby, I actually meant I NEVER see it. Whereas middle aged guys playing soccer, I know half a dozen guys. The die-hard-est rugger fan mate of mine joined a club about 5 years ago for a bit, got hurt badly during the training and games and that was basically the end of it.

    As you say, it's an injury-fest. It's not really possible to play seriously if you can't maintain a relatively high level of fitness and even then you'll break stuff. I played every weekend for years but stopped when I left school, and that was in the amateur days. But touch is quite different – there are plenty of guys in their 40s playing that.

    I dunno about the rest though. What you described above is a bunch of people who actually aren't that into the game. When I went to games at Eden Park it was actually pretty chill and there were quite a few young women. And enduring watching with boofheads has been the exception rather than the rule for me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    My experience is that any team sport activity is likely to result in injuries, usually because other people (especially blokes) get so gee'd up on adrenaline, testosterone and/or frustration they end up impacting others (be it through fouls, poor coordination or poor judgement). I threw the towel in when I was late 20's and got more into cycling / mountain biking instead!

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Nothing to do with the code - it's a problem that will attach itself to the mainstream/working class sport in any country.

    Your thoughts on rugby league?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    What you described above is a bunch of people who actually aren’t that into the game.

    Yes, although they were more into it in the past.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    My theory (possibly half-baked) about the links between soccer and racism, sexism and violence is that is a game which often lacks narrative resolution ie a bunch of over-paid blokes kick a ball around for 90 minutes, ending up with one or two goals--or, worse still, a scoreless draw or a rather demeaning penalty shoot-out. So, the fans have to do something to fill in the time--drink and create havoc, for example.
    I recall major matches in Cardiff, where portable beer stalls were on every corner and mounted police roamed in packs, Post-game, the city resembled a war-zone. There was never the same threat of violence in the air when there was rugby at the Millennium Stadium.
    Good rugby is so more satisfying in terms of the stories it constructs--the final moments of the Lions vs Blues last night, for example,
    With some blokes I know, following soccer seems like a rather snobby strategy to differentiate themselves from the mainstream sport of NZ rugby,

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    With some blokes I know, following soccer seems like a rather snobby strategy to differentiate themselves from the mainstream sport of NZ rugby,

    It always seemed to involve British/European signalling when I was a kid. But the signalling was both ways, rugby always staking the claim of being salt of the earth genuine kiwi thing despite the quite small number of people I actually knew playing it. Of course my formative years were marred by 1981. But I think the hostility to the game that many quite righteously developed was also something we were quick to shed, a kind of emotional amnesty following that outpouring. The threat of violence from rugby supporters was actually something that loomed quite large in my childhood consciousness. But yes, the British soccer hooliganism is a whole other thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Good rugby is so more satisfying in terms of the stories it constructs--the final moments of the Lions vs Blues last night, for example,

    Sorry, but that really is nonsense. Feel free to prefer one sport to another - none is "better" by any quantifiable standard, people might get their kicks from windsurfing or bowls. But to deny the "stories" of the world's most popular team sport is just a bit weird, as if the news of a century has somehow passed you by. And that theory isn't so much half-baked as not even a recipe. You might as well argue that "A bunch of bad things have happened in the world since the blues turned into the beat and then pop, ergo popular music is to blame." It's what millions of people do and like, and since people do a lot of stuff, that will include bad stuff.

    There's a wealth of quality writing on football easily available online or on the page, I'd suggest reading some of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • dave stewart,

    Can somebody please explain to me why in NZ we tolerate monopolistic business practices by television broadcasters (e.g. exclusive sports rights), yet in almost every other sector of commerce we have rules and tools to prevent businesses from obtaining a monopolistic advantage?
    Does the ComComm not have enough teeth to do something about this, or are there special laws protecting the TV/sports sectors?
    Seems to me like another example of free trade being a noble objective when it benefits large corporates, but to be prevented as much as possible when it might benefit individual consumers.

    Since Aug 2014 • 37 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to simon g,

    Sorry, but that really is nonsense.

    I confess, I have thought along similar lines to Geoff. I followed football when I lived in the UK, but the lack of resolution in football drives me nuts these days. A rugby match is full of small victories and defeats – not just scoring events, but scrums, lineouts, breakdowns. The ball is in play for a much shorter time, but there are more quantifiable events. I do wonder if that's why big rugby crowds are more tepid in both a negative and positive sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

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