Football vs rugby
IAN McLEAN contrasts the two most popular sports in the land…
Comparing the two sports
IMOVED to Torquay in Devon from London ten years ago and it’s all good. The slow pace of life, the friendly people, drinking without needing a bank loan, drivers who let you turn right without blocking a junction and it’s beside the sea.
I am joking about the sea, don’t see the big deal – it’s a lump of water.
I got a season ticket for Torquay United last term, at £200 a snip, even if it was the Vanarama Conference and it was a roller coaster ride.
We flirted with relegation to Conference South and safety only came on the last day of the season.
Until March, the club had no owners as it was haemorrhaging money like a no-hoper sat in a betting shop playing slots with the last £7.30 of his giro.
How unlucky were we? Lifelong fan Paul Bristow won the lottery in 2004, became vice-chairman, paid for a new stand, now called Bristow’s Bench, bought in a crop of talent, then had a fatal heart attack in 2010. His wife, Thea, stuck around until 2015 then bailed out. Since then Torquay have floundered. The South West is not a footballing oasis, the regional teams being Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay. I won’t count the two Bristol sides as they’re dirty Northern b******s. No footballing behemoths down these parts. In London, your typical lads’ opening gambit where you are amongst relative strangers is, ‘Who do you follow?’ Such a line will lead to a bit of banter, the transfer market, worst refereeing decision that weekend or, when I mention I live in Torquay, ‘Have you seen Helen Chamberlain in a swimsuit?’
An opening line about football in Devon, 90 per cent of the time, gives you a response, ‘I don’t like football. Rugby me. I think football players are a bunch of overpaid, cheating, prima donnas. Rugby is a much better game.’
I often wonder why these egg-chasing followers feel the need to compare football with rugby?
I have never spoken to a boxing aficionado and had a response such as, ‘Don’t like football, the noble art is my sport, much better, real men trying to knock each other out, not like your footballers, rolling around every time the wind catches their hair.’
Going back to ‘overpaid, cheating, prima donnas’. Rugby players don’t get paid as much as footballers because the sport is not as popular, therefore the ‘rugby’s better than football’ argument falls down in terms of marketability.
Some pop stars are overpaid, drug-taking, alcohol-drinking prima donnas but you don’t hear people say, ‘Don’t like pop music, I prefer the opera, so much better.’
They are both genres of singing, the same
Back to rugby and football. Do the former’s players cheat? The rules are fairly simple, so why do so many players get caught ‘coming on the wrong side or with their hands in at the maul?’ Why are there new rules to prevent spear tackling or lifting the legs above the horizontal?
I once saw a player earn, in my opinion, a 9.5 for a dive out of a lineout but he was awarded a penalty. I saw a scrum half knock the ball from his opposite number’s hand as he went in to feed a scrum. Hand of God? Seems like cheating to me.
Is it that the rugby players look better? How many of them advertise hair restorer, aftershave, pizza or toothpaste?
A footballer’s discerning good looks and lack of broken nose and cauliflowers ears make him a pleasing bit of eye candy for the discerning or cheating housewife with the family Sainsbury list, and possibly her husband’s bank details.
Is it that the coaching/game plan is better? Definitely not.
At half and full-time the ex-player and host pundits will pull apart whatever the losing team did wrong, ‘Slow to the tackle, did not move the ball quick enough, made too many mistakes, poor substitutions, didn’t capitalise when they were on top.’ Exactly the same as football.
Are the fans better? Here I agree to an extent there is some kudos to the argument.
Rugby fans can take beers into the stands because they don’t tend to get pissed and rowdy. Children and wives feel safer at a rugby match than a football match.
Rugby fans tend not to sing bawdy songs about one of the players’ wives although the ability to do this does show a skill in poetry, which is something Keats, Oscar Wilde and Pam Ayres were praised for.
You don’t get many star fans at a rugby match so football has some better fans. Rugby fans can stand or sit alongside fans from another side and not want to start a brawl, although is this normal? Why would you want to stand next to a fan from the opposition while your team are getting a good thrashing? The opposition winger is nutmegging your carthorse defender and you have to listen to the gloating and the false sympathy. You would want to punch someone! Moving to the international scene, are England better at rugby than football? Aside from the fact there are only about eight first class rugby nations, England were as rubbish at the last World Cup in rugby as they were in the last big football tournament. Okay, we won the Rugby Six Nations, but in football we no longer have the Home Internationals because it’s a waste of time and our footballers are tired after a 40-game season and need to get off to Bali or Hawaii. Rugby better than football? Are bricks better than timber? They both do a great job but a different job. What do you think?
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