Aussie Aussie Aussie

by Brian on November 21, 2003

Americans, like everyone else, like to play up sporting rivalries. And tomorrow sees the latest installment of one of the big ones by their parochial standards: Ohio State v Michigan. It’s a bit overshadowed though by the greatest rivalry in world sports: Australia v England. Since this time it’s for the Webb Ellis Trophy, it is a pretty important game in the rivalry too. A bit more important than, say, our guy beating their guy at darts. In recent years, Australia has outgunned the English in just about everything, but I fear that doesn’t provide much ground for confidence about tomorrow’s game. I’m pretty confident that Australia will score more tries than the English, and the English will score more field goals than we do. If this was an Australian Rules grand final Jonny Wilkinson would be flattened within the first five minutes. Twice. And that’s assuming he got through the warmups unscathed. Fortunately the game they play in heaven is a little more civilised, even if English tactics are about as much in keeping with the spirit of the game as Bodyline. I’m so excited about it I can hardly sleep, which is a good thing since the only way I’ll make a 4am start time is if I’m still awake.



Iris 11.21.03 at 7:41 pm


The only game on my tv this weekend is Ohio State vs. Michigan.


:) (if the games start at 4 am, I suppose you will have time to watch both)


Johno 11.21.03 at 8:08 pm

What the hell is rugby? Is that that nancy-pants game where everyone piles on like sorority chicks at a bridal sale?

I grew up in Ohio, so hating Michigan is in my blood. Thing is I hate Ohio too, so I’ll be watching the morons try to flatten each other all the while praying for an opportune meteor strike.

And you can keeps your nasssssty rugby!


johno 11.21.03 at 8:24 pm

I’m sorry… I shouldn’t troll, much less cut on rugby.

The only time in my life I have contemplated playing the sport was after twelve-count’em-twelve pints of Greene King. I felt bulletproof, and POSITIVE that my desk-trained 160-lb frame could stand the damage. But when my rugby-playing friend Scott showed me how his knee could bend funny ways now, I realized it might be a bit beyond me. Anyone crazy enough to play that sport has my respect.

Wonder if they’ll show England/Australia on US cable?


Jeff 11.21.03 at 8:45 pm



douglas 11.21.03 at 8:56 pm

go the English !
As a disappointed S. African supporter they are the dog for me in this fight..

American football ? what a peculiarly boring game.. as soon as anything happens they stop for a commercial. I don’t get it even after a decade of trying to watch.


Michael 11.21.03 at 9:02 pm

Um, _the_ Game is this weekend in New Haven….


dmm 11.21.03 at 9:10 pm

If you’re already sleep-deprived, watching England play rugby might not be the best plan.


Mark 11.21.03 at 10:05 pm

It’s worth reading the comments on subjects like this, just to see american readers go WTF? when you start talking about “Bodyline” without any clue whatsoever…. and 70 years ago at that, Jeez, Cricket Fans (especially Aussies) never forget….


Justin Slotman 11.21.03 at 10:14 pm

This will be my first live rugby match as I have coughed up the $25 to get it on PPV. I don’t really understand rugby–at this point it looks to me like a disorganized version of football; I mean, why the hell when the one guy gets tackled does he get to poop the ball out to his teammate in back of him? Why do you have to touch the ball to the ground to score a touchdown? (Why don’t you have to touch the ball to the gound to score a touchdown in football?) How come you can lift somebody on your shoulders to grab the ball? How do you go offsides in all this craziness? But I know I like watching it, and world cups of all types have a really distinctive vibe to them. I’m looking forward to getting up at 4 in the morning tomorrow.


Chris Bertram 11.21.03 at 10:30 pm

Roll on 9am our time …. though I suspect those Aussies will mete out the same treatment to Jonny Wilkinson that they gave to Justin Marshall in the semi, and thus win by foul means….


Ian Whitchurch 11.21.03 at 11:43 pm


Bullshit. The hit on Marshall was fair.

Hard, but fair.


If you could hold the ball in the tackle, then the game would be a worse ground-level wrestling match than it is now.

You have to touch the ball down because any idiot can break the plane of the goal line.

You can lift in the lineout because referees were unwilling to send off cheating New Zealanders for doing this, so they changed the rules to make it legal.

You go offsides by – generally – going forward of the ball. Remember that blocking is illegal. ‘Rolling mauls’ are the exception to this rule.

Remember, rugby is an English game, and hypocricy is the English vice.


Never to forgive, never to forget.

Douglas Jardine taught us that that Bear Bryant’s dicturm “Winning isnt the only thing. It’s everything” is seductive, but wrong. There are worse things than losing.

And thats why Gilchrist said that the unpire was wrong, and that he had hit the ball and was therefore out, in the semi-final of the World Cup.

Finally, go Prarie View. They’ve got a win this year already …


Dave 11.21.03 at 11:52 pm

Ohio: home to arch-rival OSU, and inept utility companies. Go Blue! (and keep the electrity flowing!)



Dave 11.21.03 at 11:55 pm

I mean “Michiganian”, of course.


coder 11.22.03 at 1:02 am

I admit, rugby can be hopelessly confusing at times if you weren’t brought up around it, or for that matter if you were. Even as a New Zealander who was quite literally taught it in school, I still have only a hazy grasp of some of the more esoteric rules, especially when it comes to the breakdown.

Having said that, and speaking strictly objectively, it is easily the most exciting spectator sport in the world. You can trust a Kiwi on that. When the All Bla…umm…a good team is 10m out from the line with a drive on, or a back line swings into perfectly synchronized action, or a winger slips past defenders and out of tackles to score, it is pure magic.

Sure, the rules may be so byzantine that even the professional referrees at the highest levels do not fully agree on how to interpret them. Who cares? The fact that a ref can change the way the game is played is all just part of what makes it so damn fun to watch. Except if they let the bloody Aussies get away with their dummy runners, or the English with killing the ball, or South Africans with their dirty hits, or…ahem. Where was I?

And by the way, Ian: cheating New Zealanders indeed! And since we seem to be using bodyline to discredit the English, I would just like to briefly mention underarm bowling… Which is to say that both teams in the final are obviously irredeemably tainted, and the only fair course left is to award the trophy to the winner of the so-called playoff match!

All reasonable, fair minded people should be able to agree on that, surely?!?



Walt Pohl 11.22.03 at 2:01 am

If you were looking for the Pareto-optimal combination of the number of people who care and the passion with which they care, you would have to name India-Pakistan the biggest sports rivalry.

Given that sports, almost uniquely, a) is unimportant, and yet b) inspires obsessive devotion, I think that any sport that has a global following is a bad thing. Fame is self-validating, and is like a magnetic field that distorts values so that they all point in its direction. A world in which everyone knows who David Beckham is is a poorer world than one in which everyone does not.

So to me the part of the appeal of American football is that so many people find it so inexplicable. It’s our own little quaint custom.


David 11.22.03 at 7:40 am

I noticed a small reference to AFL slipped in there. There is a sad thing about the game – Grand Finals are usually boring. The occasion is just too big, the pressure too intense, the run up to the thing too brutal, for even contests. And barracking for a losing team getting bashed in a Grand Final must be one of the saddest spectacles short of something real..

I hope for the sake of a gazillion people around the world up at ungodly hours, already drooling Guinness and Theakstons Old Peculiar, or crappy crappy Fosters, that it is a close game..


andrew 11.22.03 at 7:48 am

Tomorrow is also the Berkeley/Stanford football game.


derrida derider 11.22.03 at 1:33 pm

Walt, Orwell criticised sport on the grounds that it created intense tribal feelings that soured international (and other) relations – it is “war minus the shooting”. Of course he missed the point – we are intensely tribal creatures, so we will have wars. And it’s much better if they are minus the shooting.

Maybe India and Pakistan should have a cricket or polo match to settle Kashmir (Kofi Annan to officiate?).


Andrew Boucher 11.22.03 at 3:15 pm

The greatest rivalry in sports, parachial or not, is Red Sox vs. Yankees.


Doug 11.22.03 at 5:26 pm

Being the good cosmopolitan that I am, I’ll put in a nod for Brazil vs. everyone else in soccer.

But really, the only Yankee football matchup worth considering is Army-Navy. Otherwise, give me any intra-state southern rivalry: Auburn-Alabama (the book is called Clean Old Fashioned Hate), Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, LSU-Tulane. Only Tennessee-Vanderbilt peters out, because that’s what Vandy does…


Walt Pohl 11.22.03 at 10:49 pm

DD: You’re right that we are intensely tribal. That’s why we’re better off our outlets for tribal passions (sports) do not line up with our tribal institutions (nations). And the smaller scale sports happen on, the better.


DawgsFan 01.02.04 at 2:23 pm

Auburn-Alabama is the Iron Bowl, not Clean, Old-fashioned Hate. UGA-GT (Georgia-Georgia Tech for yall u dang foreigners) is Clean, Old-fashioned Hate. Okay, the last game was a little messy. There were some fights, some trash-talking, some fans from both sides gettin harassed and beat up, but that just goes to show that the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry ain’t the best in the country, Georgia and Georgia Tech is. Even though there was fighting and hate, Tech’s freshman quarterback and UGA’s freshman running back, old high school teammates, shook hands and hugged after the game.

Oh, another thing, no1 givs a flip a/b rugby, soccer, or ne other sissy sport like that. The only sports real men like are football, basketball, and baseball. So no1 cares a/b ur lil sissy foreign sports.

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