A bluffer’s guide to surviving the Rugby World Cup

I was at a barbecue on Sunday and inevitably, the conversation turned to Rugby. Immediately, one or two people felt slightly at a loss of things to contribute to the conversation, and so here is The Rugby Blog guide to surviving the World Cup for those that don’t know their rucks from their mauls. Following these simple guidelines will enhance enjoyment for rugby novices, whilst preventing the annoyance of those in the know. Feel free to post your own additions to the guide!

Five choice phrases to slip into any rugby conversation:

1. “The thing with France is that you just don’t know which team will turn up, but I really think they could win it.”

2. “You can never under-estimate Australia, but I’m just not sure their front five is good enough to win a World Cup.”

3. “The English look less dangerous in attack than the Swiss army.”

4. “The Springboks would be almost unbeatable if they could just keep 15 players on the pitch for the full 80 minutes.”

5. “I thought James Simpson-Daniel was unlucky to miss out on selection for the World Cup squad.”

Five things to avoid saying at all costs

1. “I quite like the new England kit” – this will immediately put you in the minority.

2. “Can’t we watch something else?” – no we can’t, Romania v Portugal should be a good game.

3. “How many goals did we win by?” – two things wrong with this. a) Wrong sport, and b) You should know the score anyway.

4. “I didn’t even know they played rugby in Georgia” – well, they do and the limitations of their defensive-based strategy is worthy of significant airtime.

5. “I thought Jason Robinson and Lawrence Dallaglio had retired?” – actually they did, but now they are back and everyone is thankful, so don’t even think about mentioning the average age of the England team

General etiquette during the match

Do not say things like “What’s the score?” (it’s on the screen), or “Which team is which?” (if you don’t know, wait until one team scores and see whose score changes) – it will only annoy everyone trying to watch, and they might miss a good bit.

Phrases like “Shoe him!” – when an opposition player is in the way when the ball is on the ground – will earn you respect. Any comments concerning the tightness of the players’ shorts will not, and you may be asked to leave.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are not completely confident of saying something sensible, then don’t say anything.

16 thoughts on “A bluffer’s guide to surviving the Rugby World Cup

  1. Begs the question, why would the author deem it suitable to be in the company of ‘novices’ during the RWC? Beer, Blood & the Boks should be the only topics of conversation over the forthcoming holy weeks, and any ‘novices’ with less than an expert grasp of the game should remain silent. Period.

  2. I disagree with the honorable Mr Rodham in just one respect – Novices and recent initiates should be encouraged to come and watch with the more respected and established members of the fraternity. After all, someone has to go to the bar midway through the first half…

  3. i agree with Matt. i’m a welsh lass living in Essex and am trying to get the girls into the game. comments about size abound and giggling but they can now tell the difference between a ruck, a maul and a scrum. so come on guys lighten up and tell the uninitiated how class the game is. also ordering Malibu and cokes is not really on but there is nowhere here that does decent beer. and i have got Essex girls cheering the welsh so cant be bad.

  4. Message from the owners of ‘the bluffer’s guide’ trademark that I have apparently used illegally:

    The publishers of The Bluffer’s Guide to Rugby have granted permission for our use of the trade mark ‘bluffer’s guide’ and would encourage readers of The Rugby Blog to visit their site:
    http://www.ovalbooks.com/bluff/Rugby.html

  5. Of course they have goals in rugby – penalty goal – 3 points, drop goal – 3 points and just for anyone with a long enough memory a “goal” is actually a converted try. So these days you could be leading by 3 goals to 1 making the score 21-7. If you want to make out you know about rugby make sure you do, or there will always be a pedant ready to pick you up on your apparent ignorance…

  6. Alex, thanks for that. Two things though…firstly, if we are being pedantic, I didn’t actually say there weren’t goals in rugby. Secondly, if you said to me, How many goals did we win by? you would immediately lose my respect regardless of whether or not this is a valid question, so not sure you can call me ignorant.

  7. Mr Scrott, the other day my girlfriend asked me how many ‘goals’ England had scored. I ignored her and showed her the same disdain that I now direct at you.

    Oh and while we’re all being ‘pedants’, correct grammatical English would necessitate the use of colons, semi-colons, and even the odd comma. Just a thought, lest the learned contributors to this blog were to judge you on your apparent ignorance…

  8. Rugby should be compulsory for all boys aged 11 and above at school. No arguments! Any parent who thinks they can shield their son from harm needs to get a grip. Then we wouldn’t have any need for dumb articles like this.

    However, this is not a perfect world. And there are those folk who are not interested in rugby in the slightest, until that fateful day when they see a gaggle of England fans huddled together in drunken comradeship, singing amusing songs about an “Engine Driver” and so on. They wonder what it’s all about. To them, it’s a hidden world. Rugby is a suggestion to them, rather than a noble sport. And then they find that the pub has an unusual crowd in the bar for the period of February to March, and they’re watching 30 fellas chasing an egg! And they are curious.

    That is what we must forgive in the uneducated, and embrace them. Teach them that Life is Rugby and Rugby is Life. Not shun them as half-witted outcasts or orange-haired cousins, but tell them what they want to know.

    I live in Germany with my German girlfriend, and she’s quite enamoured with Rugby, and can see why I played it for nearly 20 years. But she can also see why I walk a bit funny these days. I’d still play today, if my knees would let me… or is it that Evil Doctor that says I can’t?

  9. I know this is a silly question for you folks out there; but what is the difference between rugby union and rugby league? Peter from Norway

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