Rugby or Football?
I watched a football match last night. In a bar. In a bar filled with testosterone and the stench of cheap beer.
This shouldn’t be too shocking a revelation for a supposed Sports Editor but I actually abhor the game of football. I could watch hours upon hours of rugby, GAA, golf, snooker, even darts. But not football. I’d rather swallow razor blades or try to snog Enda Kenny.
I took agin the game at the tender age of 7, when my dad realised I was actually a severely uncoordinated girl who had no hopes of becoming the football star he always dreamed I would be. Similarly, I disappointed my mother by being both uncoordinated and rotund – no ballet princess for her. I’ve been manhandled into watching games before, having made the mistake of being best friends with mainly boys who watched football mostly as a bid to prove their manliness. During football season, most weeknights you’d find me down in the local in front of a pint of the bad stuff, with splints in my eyes and ropes around my ankles screaming in protest while my male friends ignored my suffering and pretended they knew exactly what the offside rule was.
Anyway, I found myself oddly intrigued by this game. It was between Arsenal and West Ham and I believe Arsenal won. This was a fair turnaround for the team who had always been viewed as a bit of a shambles, according to the few snippets of disappointed mumblings I heard from spectators. What made this game different for me was how I viewed it and this came from the conversation I had with a fellow football hater. After the last bout of energetic, incoherent shouting at the small tv screen, we started to debate the merit of football vs rugby. We came up with two main reasons why rugby wins every time.
The highest paid football star is Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo with an earning of at least 44 million per year. In comparison, former England fly half Jonny Wilkinson is considered the highest paid rugby star with a monthly take-in of 56,000, which is roughly 672,000 per year. Judging from those statistics, one can definitely say that money is major motivator for football stars. Sure they might start off passionate and all about the game but once their first paycheck comes in and they buy that sleek, red Ferrari, they sign their soul to the devil.
Now that the green of those dollar bills rather than the green of the football pitch is what drives their spirits, does their talent at the game begin to slip away? They lose their passion to their new obsession with building a fan base, finding endorsements and earning a neat seven-figure sum. Rugby players are less about the moola. They play the game because they love it and that shows. The passion and drive they have is evident in every game they play.
One of my main pet peeves with football is that I often feel like I’m watching a scripted drama. Players dive, they viciously attack other players and they fall to the floor with imagined injuries. They’re carried off on stretchers, bemoaning their existence because another player came within a five-mile radius of their ankle. Every player is out for himself, constantly trying to one up both his rivals and his teammates. In comparison, rugby is an aggressive game, players give no thought to themselves or those around them as they put their bodies through hell for the sake of their team. I’ve seen players break legs, dislocate shoulders and suffer dizzying concussions and still play on. Again, the passion for the game comes in to play here. Rugby players have it in droves, whereas football stars are too proud and worried about ruining their manicures.
I once heard a saying that rugby is a brute’s sport played by gentlemen and football is a gentlemen’s sport played by brutes. I couldn’t agree more.
Photos c/o sundayworld.com, irishmirror.ie