Foot­ball vs rugby

IAN McLEAN con­trasts the two most pop­u­lar sports in the land…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

but dif­fer­ent.

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?

Give it a try? Eng­land’s rugby play­ers cel­e­brate

Lion-heart: Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain en­joys scor­ing for Eng­land

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