Misinformed, angry, coffee-addled ranting.
Well. What a few weeks it’s been. Unless of course, you’re one of the 90% of humans believed to live in the Northern Hemisphere. Then it’s just been a bit sad. I’m not referring to the grey autumnal gloom that’s been dragging its sorry carcass across the top of the globe like a chewed up impala being hauled away by a particularly sluggish lion.
No, I am of course referring to the Rugby World Cup, which has been plastering itself all across our tellyboxes with the omnipresent persistence of an exceptionally enthusiastic stalker. If you’re anything like me (handsome, debonair, near-genius level intelligence, often described as a “sexual triceratops” etc.) this is one of those rare “Good Things”. This is because, for fleeting moments once every four years, rugby becomes the soup du jour of the sporting world, vastly preferable in my book to the primadonna ponzi-scheme of the round-ball game. Rugby brings with it proud sporting tradition, respect, skill, and giant hulking man beasts kicking the shit out of one another. With only a few matches remaining in the tournament, held this year in Merrie Olde England (and Cardiff, but Wales is basically England right?), we here at the Bastard Lounge thought it high time to cast our beady little eyes over the events thus far, like a helpful narrator summing things up before we plunge into Act 3 of our ball-centric play.
Things got off to a sputtering start after the host nation failed to set the world alight in the opening encounter with perennial Giant Scary Fuckers Fiji but it was all change the next day as ultimate underdogs Japan overcame all the odds imaginable to narrowly scrape past 2007 World Champions and all-round bloody-good-if-somewhat-unlikeable South Africa. Only the most miserable of bastards could consider this anything but a joyous occasion, with people all over the globe finding a new second favourite team in the plucky chaps in red and white. However, one couldn’t help but feel somewhat bemused by Japan’s incredibly patronising nickname “The Brave Blossoms”, which carries the subtle implication of “N’aww bless ’em they try hard”. Perhaps they’ll take a shiso leaf out of the book of the new Super Rugby franchise to be based out of Tokyo, the Sunwolves, and ditch the moniker for something suitably badass, like “The Hyper-Giga-Laser-Punchers” or whatnot.
And thus the tournament progressed, with England suffering a more embarrassing premature finish than that night I spent with your mother. Luckily though, things were not all doom and gloom for the Home Nations as Wales, Scotland and Ireland all progressed out of the group stages to participate in some epic Quarter Final showdowns with the best teams the Southern Hemisphere had to offer. Wales were up first, facing South Africa with a makeshift squad largely held together by duct tape, wishful thinking, and the kind of eyelash glue so popular in The Valleys. Despite a titanic tussle, the Brave Boyos were unable to keep their discipline in check, like a mischievous schoolchild who doesn’t realise that the teacher isn’t joking when she says she’ll give them a smack if they don’t shut up. The boot of Handre Pollard sent the boys in red home to lick their many, many, many wounds but a strong performance and never-say-die attitude could at least give the fans something to be proud of.
The same couldn’t be said for Ireland unfortunately, who suffered the most comprehensive Argentinian demolition job since Diego Maradona got into the buffet early.
With the rest of the home nations out, accompanied by France who had shrugged their way to an embarrassing defeat at the hands, feet and haircuts of New Zealand, it was left up to Scotland to save face for the entire Northern Hemisphere. After being soundly despised for being responsible for Japan becoming the first team in World Cup history to win 3 group matches and still be sent home, Scottish support was slow to arrive. However, when it became clear that the tartan army were going to push Australia all the way, everyone seemingly discovered previously shameful Scottish ancestry and started painting their faces blue and swearing at the English. I briefly changed my name by deed poll to Wee Jock McSporran, the laldiest bagpiper in Auld Glasgae Toon, and all across the British Isles people were abandoning pants and investing heavily in sporran-polish.
Alas it was not to be, with referee Craig Joubert awarding a controversial last-minute penalty to hand victory to the Aussies. So vicious was the bile directed towards Joubert afterwards, that the sport’s governing body World Rugby stepped in in a vain attempt to explain why Joubert was correct in his decision not to refer the incident to the much-maligned Television Match Official (TMO). However, rather than focusing on this, the only thing anyone took away from the statement was the admission that Joubert had got his decision wrong in the first place, making it look like World Rugby had not just thrown him under the proverbial bus, but tied him up and driven the thing over him themselves.
Nonetheless, it cannot be said that the four teams (New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Australia) to make it through to the semi finals don’t deserve to be there. Whilst some were bemoaning the fact that, for the first time ever, a European team will not be contesting the latter stages of the tournament, it is worth noting that at times the gap between the two hemispheres has closely resembled a blind, drunken midget stepping into the Octagon with Ronda Rousey. Sure, they’ll land the occasional punch here and there, but ultimately the Southern Hemisphere sides are just going to slap on an armbar and piss off with all the accolades.
As the tournament nears its conclusion, rugby-haters will soon be breathing a sigh of relief having exhausted all their “egg-chasers” references and jokes about posh-boy homo eroticism weeks ago. For the rest of us, we’ll be despairing at the thought of national attention turning once again to football, and without even a Great British Bake Off any more to see us through the harsh winter nights, it’s going to take all of our collective willpower to resist the temptation to go marauding round town centres, lifting up strangers by the bum and shouting “LINEOUT!”, or diving headfirst into a supermarket discount bin and emerging victoriously with a butternut squash screaming “TURNOVER’S GOOD!”. Maybe that’s just me.