A bold move has been made by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to resume with the domestic Super Rugby competition in June. This is welcome news to many rugby fans who are craving a bit of action. I think every rugby is ready for the show to go on now as we have all watched a the highlights of every game under the sun by this stage of lockdown.
What we have to look forward to now is 10 weeks of unbelievable show stopping New Zealand footy. A total of 20 games will be played if all goes according to plan. NZR reports that all players will be screened in order to prevent further spread and the games will be played in empty stadiums until further notice.
Team members will also have to minimize contact outside of team bubbles in order to prevent the virus from coming into the competition. Another regulation that NZR has brought in is that away teams will fly in and out on game day instead of staying in the away location.
An exciting prospect is that we may get to see Beauden Barrett in a Blues jersey for the first time, which could spice up the competition. The teams will have had a full month to prepare once the first whistle blows and all we know is that there are a lot of happy rugby fans that cannot wait to see that first line break, offload and scintillating try. So hang in there for a little bit longer and trust me my friends we will see rugby again.
Due to the way that rugby is approached in the Southern Hemisphere where the youth grow up in a very rugby orientated culture. In the South kids are born with a rugby ball in their hands and to reinforce that a lot of emphasis is put on rugby at schools. The school rugby scene is very big with high-school and university games being broadcast on national television. A big emphasis is put on the sport from a young age. Naturally this creates a situation where, the youth coming through the system have a great understanding of the game.
Due to the climate in the South the game that is played is very different to way it is played in the North. This is mainly due to the climate as in the South rugby is played in summer and winters are usually dry, which means less kicking and more running rugby. On the other hand in the North there is more emphasis on goal kicking from penalties and this comes down to the wet climate, which makes it harder to play a running style of rugby. This means that players in the North and players in the South for the most part are playing two different brands or types of rugby. The South being quite fast and the North being quite slow and more orientated around strength rather than skill. With this being said Northern Hemisphere teams have started to play a more attractive styled running rugby in recent years and this has led to some close encounters between teams hailing from the two hemispheres.
Are the tables turning?
Recent years have seen Northern Hemisphere teams go from strength to strength. This can be seen in the recent change at the top of world rugby rankings, where Wales have gone number one replacing New Zealand who slipped up their final Rugby Championship games against Australia. To go a long with this the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017 showed promise for the North and they drew the series with the All Blacks. At the helm of the North’s resurgence are Southern Hemisphere coach’s. Warren Gatland from New Zealand is head coach of both Wales and The British and Irish Lions which are the two teams that have played a major role in putting the North back on the radar. Joe Schmidt another New Zealander has also played a major role as head coach of Ireland who have beaten New Zealand twice in the past three years. Eddie Jones of Australia is also showing promise as the Head coach of the English national side who narrowly lost to New Zealand at the end of 2018.
If there was a time for things to change it would be this year as we see how the North has put itself back on the rugby map. As it stands three out of the four teams, which the numbers are favoring to win the Web Ellis trophy hail from the Northern Hemisphere. These teams are Ireland, England and Wales, along with the only team from the Southern Hemisphere being New Zealand. Therefore, this could be the year that we finally see the tables turn once and for all in favor of Northern Hemisphere sides. At the end of the day only time will tell if the Northern Hemisphere have bridged the gap.
What has drawn many women to rugby is that it allows them to break down a patriarchal stereotype. It is also highly beneficial and helps maintain physical fitness. Playing rugby is also good for the mind like many other sport, as well as having social benefits because it makes it easier to make friends and spend time with people before and after games.
The pay gap
There is much to do when it comes to gender equality in rugby. The biggest disparity is seen in the gender pay gap. The men’s game is professional meaning that players get full salaries that support them while they play. Most women get paid next to nothing for their efforts, which means they have to hold down a full time jobs whilst playing. If they get injured and cannot work this will put these women under immense financial pressure.
England have become the first rugby nation to offer women full professional contracts to play. This could most certainly lead to their dominance in the game as these ladies will be able to fully devote themselves to training, meaning that they will not have to work a full time job whilst also having to focus on training. Other nations such as New Zealand, France and Australia have also made steps to give players better pay, but none have been as bold as the English in offering players lucrative full time contracts.
The justification for the pay gap between men’s teams and women’s teams comes down to media coverage. Most men’s games are broadcast on national television and aired at prime time. This draws sponsors to the teams that are playing in these games. In order to get more funding into the women’s game, more sponsorship is needed. The problem is that sponsors rely on media coverage. This is why sports such as tennis and athletics have equal pay for men and women, because both both genders have the same media coverage. Therefore, in order to get more money into women’s rugby there needs to be an increase in the media coverage. Inevitably, if there is no increase in the media coverage of women’s rugby then the cycle of unequal and low pay will continue.
Can broadcasters take a chance on women?
People are definitely taking more interest in the women’s game and this is most notably seen in England and France where more investment is coming into the game. The women’s Six Nations competition is currently being broadcast on television, which will help in attracting new sponsors to those teams. Fans are also getting behind their teams and coming out in numbers to watch games. In March of 2018 an attendance of 17440 was reached at Stade des Alpes for the Six Nations game where England faced off against France. That same weekend saw the Principality Stadium fulled with 11062 fans who came out to watch Wales take on Italy. These numbers bode well for future investment in women’s rugby.
Women are needed
In order for rugby to grow and expand the mindset that rugby is a men’s sport needs to change. Women needed to be considered equal to men in the sport and investment needs to grow. Rugby can help break down the boundaries that separate men and women in our society today. The game still has a long way to go, but progress is already being made and hopefully soon both genders will be on the same playing field, which will be exciting to see.
The rugby world knows little about Japanese rugby and how popular the sport is in the land of the rising sun. When you think about rugby, Japan doesn’t necessarily come to mind. However, contrary to this bias, the host nation of this year’s 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) has a rich rugby history. This years RWC is being played in Asia for the first time, which is very exciting for world rugby. In this post I explore the origins of rugby in Japan as well as the rugby structures present in the country.
New Zealand & Australia
Figure 1: showing host nations and years of rugby world cups.
Created by Joshua Parsons.
The history of rugby in Japan
Rugby was first played in Japan in 1866, when the first Rugby Club in Japan was founded called the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Rugby was played in Japan before big rugby playing nations such as France, New Zealand and South Africa. The only other places with a longer history are Australia and The British Isles. The Yokohama Foot Ball Club was the first ever Asian rugby club. The establishment of Yokohama Foot Ball Club came about due to over a thousand British troops who were stationed in the area. Many had played Rugby at school in England. The large number of troops made it easy to play as back in those days 40 players were needed to play a game. This was the foundation of rugby in Japan and is also the untold history of how the game started in the land of the rising son.
The father of Japanese rugby
The Japanese began playing rugby at Keio University in 1899. Ginnosuke Tanaka and Edward Bramwell Clarke introduced the great game to the men of classes they taught at the University. The University played their first official game in 1901 against expatriates of the Yokohama County Athletics team. The team established fixtures against other clubs and soon the sport grew in Universities. This lead to the first inter-university game being played between Doshisha and Waseda Universities in 1923. The early 1920’s saw rugby grow rapidly in Japan, having over 60 000 players and 1 500 clubs. Tanaka is now remembered as ‘the father of Japanese rugby’. The birth of rugby in the land of the rising son led to the first ever Japanese tour in 1930. The national team traveled to Canada and had great success winning 6 games and losing 1. The ‘Brave Blossoms’ have participated in every RWC since its inception in 1987.
How popular is rugby in Japan today?
Japan is the fourth biggest rugby playing nation in the world with a population of 122 872 rugby players as well as having 3 631 official clubs. The national side nicknamed The Cherry Blossoms or The Brave Blossoms are ranked 11th in world rugby. Although rugby is only the 5th most popular sport in Japan they have a competitive domestic league called Top League.Top League draws players from many strong rugby nations. There are well known players such as Daniel Carter and Matt Giteau who have had stints playing in Japan.
University rugby in Japan
Rugby is popular at Universities around Japan, which participate in The All-Japan University Rugby Football Championship. The championship kicked off in 1964 and currently there are currently 16 universities competing. The most successful University in the competition is Waseda University who have won 15 Championships. The final is usually well attended having close 40 000 spectators as of 2005. The University rugby culture in Japan is very competitive. University teams often play against professional teams, however there is a gulf in class between the two levels.
Why will the RWC be special?
Japan is an exciting new frontier for world rugby fans as all the world cups to date have been hosted by top tier nations of rugby. This new frontier could open a new dimension and will help grow the game in Asia. The expansion of rugby into this new realm, which most orthodox rugby supporters know very little about is one of general excitement. A ticket to Japan will be a prized possession come 20 September 2019.
My name is Joshua Parsons I am currently in my fourth year of studies in Digital Media at Rhodes University. I have been playing rugby since I could walk and over the years I have developed a deep passion for the game. This passion led me to try out for the rugby team at University, and whilst in my third year I was given the opportunity to lead the Rhodes University 1st XV Rugby Side, which I have now done for two consecutive seasons. Through this blog, I have decided to combine my passion for rugby and content creation.
I was born in Johannesburg and lived there until my parents decided to move Hilton in KZN South Africa. Thinking back to my childhood now, I have very fond memories of playing rugby for hours with my younger brother in the garden, as well as playing on the morning frost with my friends at school. As a player and as a fan, nothing makes me feel more alive than a game of rugby. The game of rugby is special because it is a game that is unforgiving to those who have not prepared well, but very rewarding for those that have made the sacrifice and put in the hard work. This in itself becomes an important metaphor for life.
For as long as I can remember, sport has been a symbol of togetherness for my family and for the whole of South Africa. This is captured in the way that Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup (RWC) to unite the South African nation helping people put their differences aside. In our country, which is one with a very difficult past for the majority of the population, this is truly inspirational. In my family, and I’m sure many others, major sporting events allow families to come together and celebrate around a braai. I still remember watching the 2007 World Cup Final with my whole family. After that day my dream was always to attend a rugby world cup in whatever capacity I could, be it as a fan or even now I think of attending as a media representative.
I remember sitting in the stands with my peers and being addressed by greats like Bobby Skinstad and having a close relationship with Dick Muir growing up. The presence of professional rugby players almost knocks me off my feet. It is a truly humbling experience to be in the presence of these greats. I love seeing how these men have devoted their lives to greatness and how they sacrifice so much to play the sport that they love. For me rugby players are the closest thing you can get to real life super hero’s.
In 2015 I had the pleasure of going to watch the World Cup semi-final game between the All Blacks and South Africa. This was something I had dreamed of for years and it was an unreal experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Not just the atmosphere, but also the way the game of rugby brought people from all corners of the globe together to unite. After that 80 minutes the All black supporters were friends and not enemies. Even though there was a rivalry between the two sets of fans there was also an amazing respect for one another.
This ticket is something I hold very dear to my heart and I have kept it ever since that day. This was one of the best experiences of my life and was probably one of the greatest games I have attended. The story behind the ticket is one of hope, because I was in the United Kingdom at the time of the world cup and I really wanted to go and support the Springboks as any passionate fan would. I decided on the day that I would take all the money I had and see if I could buy a ticket outside the stadium and attend the game. My plan B was that I would watch the game in a pub if I could not get a ticket. As soon as I got off the train there was a man who wanted to sell his ticket and it was my lucky day. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and my dream is to attend another World Cup in the near future.
When I got to University I soon developed a passion for playing rugby. I started playing in the koshuis league, where I was noticed by the 1st XV coach who invited me to come and practice with the 1st side. I then started to feature regularly for the 1st team where I developed a real love for the game and a love for hard work and dedication. In my second year I was made captain of the Rhodes University 1st side that play in the FNB Varsity Shield. In 2019 I captained my team to their first ever victory in the Varsity Shield on national television. The highlights of this game can be seen in the video bellow.
Through studying journalism and watching rugby I developed a passion for creating content and soon started my own YouTube channel called ParshallProductions. I comment on rugby and also post creative videos and vlogs. My passion is to one day turn this channel into my full time project. My other passions include getting up early, meditating, gym, water sports and many more. I hope that you as a reader enjoy this blog as much as I have enjoyed creating all the content on the blog and hopefully it will help you in some way pursue your passion.