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Bigger, poorer, dumber and the useless pursuit of rugby perfection

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11.10.2019

It’s half-time in the Rugby World Cup: a moment to reflect on how it’s going, what is its deeper meaning, why it has to be so long. The following might have been titled ’10 Things I Hate About U…nion’, but the 2019 tournament has defied my prejudices and I have been enjoying it – in a mixed, head-scratching, frustrating kind of way. It hit me that the World Cup is, for better and worse, a metaphor for our times.

Here are 10 ways the RWC reflects a world in dis/union:

But isn’t that the truth about all entertainment? Once a formula has been found, it gets milked to saturation point. Married At First Sight, The Block, that singing show with the prawn head: if it works, it’s got to be worked to death. There might be economies of scale in banging us over the head with bloat, but there are limits. A writer friend of mine was recently asked to blurb a new book. He said (not for the blurb) that it was good, but 200 pages too long. Which brought to mind something the great author David Malouf once said about every book he read: what they all had in common was that they should be shorter.

Illustration: Simon LetchCredit:

Answer me this. You go to a school rugby match and there are a dozen kids 190cm tall and weighing 100kg. They’re 18 years old and the size of the 1980s Wallabies. And then their parents wander up and they are five-foot-six and 10 stone. How did young people get to be so enormous? What do they feed them?

Transfer this to the World Cup and I reckon at post-match functions there is a land of the giants (players) mingling with the pygmies (their parents). The rugby world is hurtling towards one-tonne forward packs. No wonder the scrums, like cars, have to be........

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