The rugby World Cup 2015 has ended this weekend. Old and new world champion are the All Blacks from New Zealand. The tournament was hosted in Great Britain. Time to take a look at the sport with the egg and its influence in Europe.
Where are the roots of rugby?
Why are only a few countries involved?
What does it need to become a rugby nation?
Football, or soccer, as it is called in the US, is a sport that unifies a nation and its fans. You talk about football with people from different countries and everybody interested knows the players and the game. Which part in European binding can rugby take.
Patrick Haas is an expert on rugby. He is 25 years old, from Krefeld, Germany and moved to Ireland two years ago, a european country known for its rugby team. Patrick plays rugby for the Monkstown FC near Dublin. Before he moved to Ireland, he was a member of the german youth national team. Lets hear his opinion about the rough-looking sport and how europe can adapt to the rugby mentality.
Raphael: “Patrick, you love rugby. You are chasing the egg for more than 8 years. What makes it so special to you?”
Patrick: “Yes, I do love this sport. It combines so many things I like in real life. First of all, rugby is a real teamsport. If you have just one good player in a team, like Messi in football, you can’t win a game. Everyone is important and a team with players who look weak on first sight can win just with tactic and teamplay. Because of this teamplay, which is the key to success, the team becomes a union. Every training and match day is meeting friends.
Next thing is: rugby is a very strict and respectful sport. Only the captain of a team is allowed to talk to the referee. The only thing the captain can do while talking to the referee is asking, why the decision was made like this, nothing more. There is no arguing. If the referee decides foul, foul it is. And at the of every match, each team builds a so called “clapping lane”. Here every team applauds for the other team, no matter how hard the game was. A typical irish thing is that we go into the club bar after a game and drink a beer or two with our former opponents.”
Raphael: “Ok, that’s quite different from football. I just remember all the name-calling during and after a match. But what do you think, why is rugby not popular all over europe?”
Patrick: “That’s a really good question I asked myself several times.”
Raphael: “Maybe rugby seems complicated to many people?”
Me (in the right bottom corner) talking to Patrick via Skype.
Patrick: “Hmm, maybe. But I tell you, it’s not. Yes, it is very different compared to football. All you need is time and the interest to get to know it. Whitout knowing football, you will get really quick that you have to kick the ball into the goal to win. It’s the same with rugby. After a short time you will understand, you have to run with the egg into the endzone and make a try. I guess one of the main points is, that football is huge in germany and most european countries. And rugby is different from that. People are often afraid or not open minded to give new things a chance. They are used to football and don’t want something else.”
Raphael: “That is different in Ireland?”
Raphael: “Why so?”
Patrick: “Well, I just can speak for my own experiences. In Germany people often think like: “What does my neighbour think of me?” and they let their lives get dictated by other people. That’s why they are uptight and not open for meeting new people. Ireland is the opposite. You can easily talk to people on the street. People are interested in new things and in meeting new people. I mean, take a look 20 or 25 years back. Ireland was different then. Only two major parties ruled, and they were strictly conservative. It was like choosing between the CDU or CSU in germany. There were just a few foreigners here, a lot of the people didn’t have a job and the church had a huge influence on their lives. But when Ireland became independent from Great Britain, they didn’t want to be dictated in their lives anymore. That’s why now everyone, no matter if gay, straight, black, white, yellow – whatever – can do what he or she wants. Especially in Dublin.
Raphael: “Yeah, I heard that from several people who have been to Ireland. And you think that might be a reason why rugby is big in Ireland, even if they like football?”
European teams need to get stronger.
Patrick: “Look, in germany you can talk to everyone about football, thats it. But here you have like four different, well known sports. There is rugby, football and the Gaelic Games like Hurling or Gealic handball. Everyone interested in sports you can talk to about each of them. And yes, especially at a nice pub evening.”
Raphael: “I guess you watched some games of the World Cup while one of these pub evenings?”
Patrick: “Of course. Who would I be not to go there. The World Cup in Great Britain was wonderful. Superb matches. Sadly Ireland didn’t make it to the finales.”
Raphael: “Did one european team make it there?”
Patrick: “Thats one of the things I don’t like about the rugby World Cup. Only teams from the southern hemisphere made it to the semi finales. Okay, they are the best in the world. But for europe and my personal interest this World Cup would be much, much more thrilling with a team in the semi finales from around the corner.”
Raphael: “Yeah, I know what you mean. I will keep my fingers crossed for the next time.”
For everyone interested in rugby now: The so called Six Nations Cup – something like the european championship – starts in february 2016. France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England fight for the might in europe.
Photo credits to Natural Heart (c) from Flickr for the front picture: Click here for more.