How much more awesome would the Olympics be if there was rugby? I know, right? Well, guess what: rugby's coming back to the Olympics in 2016. Read how it happened in "How Rugby Got Back to the Olympics." By the way, the Americans are the defending gold medalists. You're welcome.
Like rugby, but think the sport's a bit slow and maybe the clothes aren't revealing enough? Maybe you should try rugby league, the sport born in Yorkshire and perfected in Australia.
They can all help us understand the role of rugby and the rugby player in popular culture. I scratch the surface with an article that links a famous jersey, punk, and the bro code.
The regular season of what is arguably the most competitive rugby league finished on July 14, 2012 in spectacular fashion, with the Queensland Reds and the Waikato Chiefs winning their respective Super 15 divisions. The Reds beat the Waratahs 32-16 in Brisbane to move ahead of the ACT Brumbies to place first in the Australia Conference with a record of 11-5.
Because the Reds have the lowest overall point total of all three first-place clubs, however, they will be playing the Costal Natal Sharks in the first round of the playoffs on July 21. The Sharks are the weakest of the wild card clubs with a record of 10-6 in the South Africa Conference.
The Chiefs, by contrast, won themselves a break despite losing 28-25 to the Hurricanes in Wellington. The Chiefs finish up with a record of 12-4, just enough to win the New Zealand Conference and relegate the Canterbury Crusaders to the wild card round with a record of 11-5. The Crusaders will host other South African wild card the Blue Bulls, who also finished 10-6, but beat the Sharks head to head.
The Sharks and the Bulls were runners up to the Western Stormers, who finished up the best Super XV season with a record of 14-2 by beating the Melbourne Rebels 26-21 in Cape Town. The Stormers will also rest as a reward for the regular season excellence.
The next tier of competition down from the Heineken Cup in Europe, the Amlin Challenge Cup aka the European Challenge Cup features elite clubs from England, France, and Wales as well as Italy, Romania, Spain, and Portugal.
And have been doing so for about a century. Read all about it in my introduction to Women's Rugby.
Yeah, that about sums it up. Getty Images.
The European tours of the Southern hemisphere took a turn for the better on June 23rd, with Scotland beating Samoa 17-16 in Apia, France beating Argentina 49-10 in Tucuman, England drawing South Africa 14-14 in Port Elizabeth, Italy beating the United States 30-10 in Houston (not the Southern hemisphere, but awfully far south), and Wales coming within one point of beating Australia 20-19 in Sydney. A strong enough showing to maybe reinflate the old North vs. South argument, right?
Wrong. The All Blacks proved conclusively that they are the best in the world by destroying the Irish tourists 60-0 in Hamilton. Sonny Bill Williams and San Cane both scored two tries, and reserve flyhalf Beauden Barrett kicked three conversions and one penalty in just over one half of play. Just brutal.
On another note, if fifteens isn't your bag, try reading my article on sevens.
Yes, yes it is. Read about him, James Bond, and nine others in "Top 10 Celebrities Who Played Rugby."
June 16th, 2012 was another ugly day for the European tourists, as the stomping continued apace, although the margins are getting closer: New Zealand over Ireland 22-19 in Christchurch; Australia over Wales 25-23 in Melbourne; South Africa over England 36-27 in Johannesburg; and Argentina over France 23-20 at home (ish) in Cordoba.
The only exception to this rule was a victory for Scotland over Fiji 37-25 in Lautoka, and even that took a 22-point performance from flyhalf Greg Laidlaw. Things look bleak at the halfway mark for the tourists, as the Southern hemisphere teams show themselves to be playing at a consistently higher standard.