Rugby values multi-cultural – RWC 2007 commentary

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multicultural valuesRugby values are truly multi-cultural if they can cross the Channel. I was enthralled by a couple of articles written in the “Coupe du Monde — Planète Rugby” magazine by Le Nouvel Observateur (the article is no longer available on line). Even though it was published in early September, it is still worth a read. Unfortunately, the articles are written in French and I’m afraid that Google Translator just does not do them justice. But it’s a great chance to practice your French if you’re up for the task.

The first is by Jacques Julliard, Editorial Writer at Nouvel Obs: La Balle Au Coeur

Mr Julliard starts off by refering to the ceremony after someone scores in football (mad adulation) as compared to rugby (tap on the back). He writes about rugby’s down-to-earth humour (after steamrolling a team with 77 points, the remarkable Richard Astre, the Béziers captain said: “they just didn’t have the same strong points as us.” He writes about the true nature of teamwork whereby, because of the rule no forward passing, every team member knows that he must get behind the man with the ball…in every sense of the word. And that the ball is always carried close to the heart.

I include the comment I deposited on Mr Julliard’s article translated into English:

“As a rugby player brought up in England, I found your article a real pleasure. Indeed, I entirely share your views with two qualifications. The first is that rugby is not in fact the only game to carry the ball close to the heart. One should not forget the cousin games (American Football, Aussie Rules Football …). Secondly, what captivate me in rugby are the lessons for life. Your first paragraph grabbed my attention. The role of the three quarters is to score a try. Thus, he is only fulfilling his role to do so, just as when the hooker heels the ball back. To that end, everyone should know their role and respect the role of others. This is a game where we find a real esprit de corps—however much the body (‘corps’) is thrown around, the spirit remains. A good leader on a rugby field is much like a great leader in times on the battlefield. The truth is transmitted by the eyes, by example and by humility. Insofar as rugby is a ‘sport’ still amateur in terms of pay (unlike football), the players generally are more educated and are able to exercise a profession after (or even during) their careers (I pay tribute for example to the magnificent Dr. JPR Williams from Wales).

The second article from the Nouvel Obs magazine is by Fabien Galthié, former captain of the French national team: Le jeu des Sept Contraires. In his piece, Galthié refers to the game of rugby as a game of contrasts, between going forward and passing backwards (many not familiar with the game find the way the backs line up so far behind the scrum bizarre), the effort of the team and the specific roles of the individual (different from American football where everyone plays in both offense and defense). But it is the seventh point that I enjoyed the most: the aggressivity on the field, and the passivity of the spectators. At the Argentina versus South Africa RWC semi-final to which I went last Sunday (hearty thanks to Lloyd in Seattle), I heard at numerous occasions the Springbok fans behind me compliment a Puma player or an Argentine action. Attractive spectatorship.

For my last point on Galthié’s article, I will give you the link to the automatic (read dumb) translation of the article which you are offered in the links under it and which merely has comic value… I note that the French national team, commonly referred to in French as “Les Bleus” is reduced to “overalls” in the translation. And essence of the game is translated as gasoline… (yes, it means that too).

As for a third link of interest on the good values of rugby, I would also like to note Denis Charvet’s blog (and specifically guide those of you francophones to the post Seven Minutes) where Denis valiantly stands up for the game of Rugby after the French defeat and I noted the sad reduction in the comments that follow. In those comments, sometimes you can detect the true rugby players and those that like to sit on the couch. What I liked was Denis’ comments about how both teams (England and France) came together after the emotional battle in a show of classy sportsmanship.

And, one final fun twist of fate : rugby as fashion statement. As I began the article, rugby’s values are able to cross the Channel. They also enter into the value-added Chanel. Yes, it’s hard to conceive, but Chanel has come out with a rugby ball for 130 euros (blogged by Chic Shopping; but you can only order the ball from the parent company). Several other brands (other than Ralph Lauren and Eden Park) have also inspired themselves from rugby collateral and uniforms. I cite: Santoni’s special RWC shoes for 1500 euros with crocodile skin and suede [couldn’t find a photo for you, but you’ll have to imagine it].

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