Rugby World Cup 2003 an English Perspective

From: Fatz
Category: Other stuff
Date: 23 November 2003


At the bus stop, in the English rain, it has poured for days; a drunk white South African with an English accent("been here twenty years") challenges the ethnically mixed group waiting for the 69 or 58 or 158, "Any of you English?". I cannot resist his challenge, to the Barbour badge of my wax jacket and my brown leather shoes, "Yes, I am." He grasps my hand to congratulate me then accuses us of not been ecstatic enough about being World Champions. I try to affirm some English values of restraint and multi-culturalism and also mention that I am tired.

I love rugby. If Hemingway had been white commonwealth he would have loved it too. It combines grace with violence. The final was all tension, the ghosts of recent England tragedies haunting us, Austalian fucking superiority a huge bogeyman to be overcome, our Englishness challenged on all sides, the sport, the team hated by class warriors, our scottish, welsh, and Irish brothers, all the ignorant.

And we, our players, were something novel, the best. Stronger in the tackle, little Wilkinson grabbing big men down, the Aussies were shaken by the thundering controlled precise force of our defence, they looked scared, they never once broke through our lines.

War. The best led by the calculating sardonic coach Clive Woodward, who prepared them to win, not to lose nobly or sadly, but to think and fight for glorious victory.

Johnson. A giant with a storybook face, few but intellgient words, captain. Robinson, a reformed Rugby leaguer, able to accelerate and sidestep, his try celebrated by the insane intensity of triumph, he punches the oblong ball into the air. And Wilkinson, a charmless figure in his good boy perfectionism, transcended all pressure, all failure, and broke free into greatness.

In the End, despite the lack of Sambaing in the streets of East London, in Sidney we English found ourselves again, strong understated brilliant thoughtful, victors.