The international rugby season kicks off for Springbok fans this weekend with the much-anticipated start of the Rugby Championship. And it’s not just any season. It’s a World Cup year, which means from now until the end of October, it’s basically non-stop rugby. To say we’re excited would be a ginormous understatement. You know who’s probably not that excited though? The people in our lives who don’t love rugby like we do.
Because as hard as it may be for us to wrap our oval-ball-obsessed minds around it, there are actually people who don’t light up at the mere thought of a perfectly executed scrum or an impeccably timed intercept try. Weird, but true. I always find it quite funny that in a nation as obsessed with rugby as South Africa, I have managed to somehow find so many people who either have only a passing interest in the sport, or who have never watched a single game. Not. Even. One. But some of the friends who know the least about the game are still the ones who make the effort to send me rugby memes, and were the first people to message me on the morning of the 2019 RWC final.
They have also accepted that I will consult the rugby calendar before committing to any social engagement, especially in a World Cup year. I have accepted that they are probably zoning out while I am talking. Being in a monogamous relationship with rugby (because honestly, who would put up with only being allowed to speak at half time) at least means I don’t have to worry about a husband or boyfriend who’s annoyed by the fact that weekends are consumed by my obsessive need to watch the game live, and then watch it again later in case I missed something in the stadium or pub. And my family is mostly just perplexed – I didn’t grow up in a rugby household, so who knows where the love affair began. But it’s certainly here to stay.
My situation may be extreme, but I also know I’m not alone. So, this one is for the friends, family members, spouses, and significant others who are looking forward to the rugby season about as much as we look forward to World Rugby announcing yet another inexplicable law change. The people in our lives who have listened to us wax lyrical about player stats and game results, as their eyes glazed over, and they wondered how to politely change the subject (as if we would allow that!). Who have sat through games they didn’t understand or really care about, or just accepted that they won’t be socialising with us until the season ends. Even the ones who have quietly unfollowed us on social media so that they don’t have to read one more post about the genius of Rassie Erasmus. We see you (at least until Saturday) and we appreciate you. We may even still try and convert you.