The Super Rugby season is nearly upon us, here’s what this means to the like of us here in the bleak North(ern Hemisphere).
- The Crushing of our hopes of success.
Despite all the lessons that history of rugby has taught us, we still labour under the misapprehension that somehow New Zealand will somehow stop being outstanding. Each time a squad of All Blacks is reaching a transitional phase the tiny beacon of hope is lit that this time, this time, the next generation will be, if not rubbish, then a least a little bit rubbisher than the last. Then we watch Super Rugby and see an obscenely good 19-year-old winger at the Highlanders, a collection of monstrously terrifying forwards all under the age of 23 scattered across the Blues and the ‘Canes, or a brilliant player who has spent five years behind the retiring All Black incumbent of the shirt. We then weep salt tears of frustration and shake our fists at the sky and shout “WHY? WHY? WHY?!”
- Too many points
Super Rugby points totals resemble a strange hybrid of cricket scores and basketball scores – “Ah look, it was 42-2 at half time and it’s finished 96-75”. Southern hemisphere types call this a feast of attacking skill to enrich your rugby soul. Northern Hemisphere rugby fans call it stupid. It’s not that we don’t like attacking rugby per se, it’s just that we don’t really understand it. On his conquests Genghis Khan destroyed things he didn’t understand – things like cities – and that’s kind of what we do to attacking rugby. We also genuinely prefer to see teams that can defend, Southern Hemisphere fans seem happy to take or leave this.
- Manifest rugby destiny
When the Europeans first arrived on the soil of what is now the USA, they decided that it was their destiny to take over the entire continent, something that became known as a “manifest destiny”. Super Rugby has adopted this mantle in a sporting context, something completely at odds with Northern Hemisphere thinking. Up north, if a nation or club asks to join one of our competitions they are told to ‘piss right off’ by the upper-middle class white men at the helm of our great tournaments. In the South you’ll let anyone join. A Japanese team with a batshit mascot and little chance of winning? Climb aboard, lads! A de facto Argentina team who have to clock up 97 million air miles every season? You are welcome. It would not be a surprise if by 2025 there is a franchise on Saturn. Anything goes. Unless you’re Pacific Islands team; they are given the Northern Hemisphere response.
- All weekend rugby/drinking
Due to the ginormous bandwidth of time difference between us and the nations of the competing teams, Super Rugby allows us to incorporate the action into the full weekend drinking cycle. A few lagers on Friday morning watching a match from NZ, continued into a tipsy viewing on Friday evening of an SA game, then watching Jaguares completely sozzled at 11pm out of one eye with a kebab balanced on our chests and dribbling down ourselves. Hungover breakfast on Saturday watching an Aus match-up, repeat Friday but replacing Jaguares with Sunwolves. Sunday is mostly nausea and self-loathing but that is still a bloody good weekend in anyone’s book.
- It rains a lot in New Zealand
There have been roughly four televised matches from NZ in the last ten years where it was not pissing it down. Fact.