Many people I know regard international rugby football with something approaching religious fervour.
I was forced to play rugby (we called it ‘rugger’) during my schooldays. I didn’t really like it and was frankly scared of tackling a beefy player on the run with the ball. Even so, there did seem to be distinct rules or codes about what sort of tackle was acceptable.
When, occasionally, I see a modern rugby match on television it looks to me like a dreadful mess. Almost half the time most of the players are collapsing into a heap on the ground, over and over again. There is much playing of men rather than the ball, with grabbing, deliberately running into, and pointless jumping on top of other players the norm. In short, modern rugby looks to my eye like a game in which two teams of thugs spend most of their time bumping into each other and falling to the ground. Where are the elegant passing movements and thrilling runs by wing-three-quarters of yesteryear? Has rugby just dumbed down like everything else into an inelegant outlet for thickos who enjoy brutal and mindless physical contact? That’s how it looks to me.
I’d appreciate it if someone could help me to see the finer points of the game. The only bits I can enjoy nowadays are spectacular conversion kicks, and there are certainly some of those.
I’ve never been a fan of team games and ball games, but if elegant subtlety was your thing, I’d vote for cricket as it once was, again before it was vulgarised beyond belief, with the Australians inevitably playing a leading part in that.