The Rugby World Cup is currently happening. Millions of people across some of the biggest nations on earth have absolutely no idea that the competition is on, or that rugby even exists.
But for (some) of the nations taking part, it’s really very important.
Cue fresh outrage then at the quarter final draw, which will see two of the world’s top four teams leaving the tournament. It does seem that those top four teams: Ireland, France, South Africa and New Zealand could beat any one of each other, or anyone else on any given day, so in the eyes of the purists, that would be likely be the ideal semi-final lineup.
A quick note: at some point in every knockout competition you have to say goodbye to all but one of the teams involved.
And look, two things here.
Number one: we’ve known about the way the pools were drawn for a long, long time, so why start grumbling again now? Are you genuinely expecting them to change things around ahead of the weekend so that your team can progress with minimal effort?
Number two: just arranging for the best four teams to be in the semis? Well, that’s not how tournaments work. If it were, why bother with the rest of it (and see below at this point)?
Just have the semis and the final. In fact, why not just have a final between the best two teams in the world? Or – fuck it all and just give the trophy to Ireland, who are currently world number 1*.
Easy. Time, money, anguish all saved.
But no, actually don’t do this, because just about the only excitement at this tournament has been provided by the smaller nations. There’s absolutely no joy in watching a 80 point romp of some top country’s B-team over some part-timers from a bit of Europe or Africa that no-one’s ever heard of.
Dull as dishwater. Literally pointless (for one side, at least).
So relax, naaiers. If your team is good enough to be world champions, they’ll have to be able to be good enough to beat all the other teams to get there: those like England or Fiji or Wales or Argentina, plus whoever else makes it through from that top 4.
And it’s worth noting that all 8 of the quarter finalists were in the Top 10 in the world when this whole thing started, so it really does seem that it’s where you choose to draw your imaginary outrage threshold that matters.
Finally, closer to home, there’s the usual storm brewing. Cue r/unpopularopinion, but when South Africa win, it’s because the team is amazing. When they lose, it’s because the referee was dodgy, because “World Rugby hates the Springboks”. If it’s not the coaching staff releasing hour long analysis videos undermining the officials’ performances after a defeat, it’s the fans doing the same – and getting copyright struck. Lol.
Never seems to happen after a win. The officiating was good in those games.
Your reminder that it’s fine to be irrational, as long as you know that you are being irrational.
And a quick look on the socials reveals that we’re prepping ahead of Saturday already:
This is good planning, because then you can look back and say “I told you so” after a defeat, or simply pretend you never mentioned anything if your team wins.
People, there is a better sport out there. It’s football. And there are some really choice matches on this weekend: Netherlands v France. Norway v Spain. Iran v Jordan (woah!). Wales v Croatia. South Africa v Eswatini (met eish, ja).
There is an alternative. If you’re going to get upset about the egg-chasing, use it.
* I checked this fact twice, to be sure, to be sure.