Six Nations rugby.
We are now halfway through the Six Nations Championship and for those of you not used to following the game you may be thinking what a strange game it is.
Let’s look at some of the finer points.
Fuelled by testosterone, it consists of eighty minutes of hairy-arsed men rushing back and forth across a muddy field, grabbing each other and rolling around on the ground. It is essentially an amalgamation of those two favourite forms of entertainment, the barroom brawl and kiss chase.
The aim of the game is simple. It is to rip the shirt from your opponent’s back while trying not to have your shorts torn off in return. Many top players find that a liberal coating of mud can make them slippery enough to avoid capture, but this can lead to confusion. By half-time it is sometimes difficult to tell who’s who or what coloured shirt anyone is wearing.
Occasionally the going can get a bit rough, but tensions are soon brought under control by gathering everyone together for a group hug. You will rarely see so much meat pushing in opposite directions with a common purpose outside of the mating season in a hippopotamus sanctuary, but after a spell of shoving and wheeling around, everyone is soon ready to resume the rushing back and forth.
When the ball goes out of play, a beautiful thing happens. Ballet. It is often said that ballet dancers are incredible athletes and unbelievably strong, but the lift needed to launch a twenty stone man six feet into the air simply beggars belief.
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The referee is always right.
The referee plays a vital role in any game of rugby because he is in charge of making up the rules as he goes along. He follows the teams as they rush back and forth, occasionally blowing his whistle for no apparent reason. After waving his arms about like a bookmaker tic-tacing at the Grand National, the players will either gather for another group hug or start fighting. If you are watching on telly you have the advantage of a slow motion replay, but even this is of little use in working out what is going on because it is merely slowed down footage of men leaping on top of each other with no sign of the ball. Essentially, if the referee says foul, it is a foul. The rule is simple: there is no rule, and the referee is always right.
The offside rule.
To many people, the offside rule in football is complicated and requires salt and pepper pots, a vase and much pointing to explain it. In rugby, there is no such explanation needed because the rule is simple. A player is offside when the referee decides to blow his whistle. Nothing else. It is nothing more than a way for the referee to stop more people from jumping on top of the ever growing pile of writhing men. If you try to make any sense of the offside rule, it will mess with your head. Eventually, you might grasp a modicum of comprehension only to be completely baffled the next time a commentator says ‘offside’. The rule is simple: there is no rule, and the referee is always right.
Life lessons from rugby.
You may have watched every match or just caught the highlights on the news, but however much you have seen you cannot fail to realise that Rugby can teach us a valuable lesson for life.
If someone tries to stop you from moving forward, hits you with the force of a speeding train, drags you to the ground, stands on your head and rams your face into the mud, success can only be achieved by doing one thing. Getting up and getting on with it.
What other lessons can we take from sport?