,Get The Look
Did you watch the England rugby team take on France in the RBS 6 Nations opening game? It’s a controversial thing to say – and feel free to comment below if you disagree – but I think watching rugby is a more enjoyable experience (and therefore more VIP) than watching football.
I went to Paris to watch the game live at The Stade de France (way more VIP than England’s football home at Wembley) and before I get into some facts and figures about the opening game, I just want to back up my point about why rugby is so good to watch:
1) The Skill
Footballers kick a ball around whereas rugby players throw an egg shaped ball backwards and run as fast as they can with it in their hands, into 6ft 5 guys built like tanks. Some of them (ie Billy Vunipola, above) have three guys tackling them at once. The impact is like running into a tree or a lampost and these boys put their life on the line for the reputation of their country. Footballers dive at the mere hint of contact and roll on the ground. Rugby boys play on even when they’re bruised, bloodied and broken. You have to respect that!
2) The Sophistication
The atmosphere at a rugby game is jovial rather than thuggish. After the game you go out and have fun whether you win or lose (as you can see by the photo above of me at Harry’s Bar in Paris). There doesn’t need to be a separate area for home and away supporters as there is little chance of fights. I went to the FA semi-final game with Millwall and the Millwall fans headbutted and punches their fellow supporters as well as ones from the opposing side. Some football fans go to games specifically to cause trouble whereas all rugby fans go to have a good time. In general, people are polite and queue and say please and thank you and the guys always seem to treat the ladies watching the matches with respect. I know I’d rather go to a game sitting nearby a civilised (although normally quite drunk) crowd than a bunch of hyperactive scary fight-searching football fans.
3) The Shorts
This is a girly reason, but it’s hard not to notice the guys look great in their kit. Compared to football, the shorts are a lot smaller. Admittedly they wear tighter and longer shorts underneath these, but this just enhances their powerful leg and glutes muscles. FACT: rugby players have better legs than footballers
The RBS 6 Nations is between now and 15 March and will see England take on Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Italy (as well as France). In the first game, which I witnessed, the final score was France 26 – 24 England but England put up an incredible fight!
Below are my top 5 highlights from the game and I recommend reading this before England’s next game against Scotland on 8 February, so you can talk with knowledge about the statistics and our future chances. Also, it’s more fun to watch the game if you have a vague knowledge of the drama and the story behind it.
1) Danny Care’s skills
Danny scored a drop kick penalty with his kicking, which helped England narrow their initial defeat and build their momentum. However, he also did so much more than this as he made decisions to run instead of kick, helping to set up Mike Brown’s try. He was really close to scoring a try himself but stopped inches away from the line. After the match, he had two throbbing black eyes on the post match conference showing just how much heart he put into the game.
2) Luther Burrell’s try
Luther has never played for England before so to come out and score a try on his debut is impressive! It was the second try of the game and the one that put England ahead so it was memorable. I hope it makes him motivated to repeat his success against Scotland so he can have the glory of scoring a try in a match England win.
(3) Billy Vunipola’s aggression
It was Billy who put Luther into the position to score his try as he surged through the French defense, offloading to Luther at the last moment. Billy also helped set up Mike Brown’s try by getting the ball from Danny Care, making progress and throwing it to Mike. His raw power was magnificent!
(4) Owen Farrell’s kicks
Admittedly, Farrell missed a conversion so he did not have the best game, but hopefully this will spur him forward to do better against Scotland. He did get a fantastic penalty kick, which shows his potential plus his ratio of kicks to points is normally a lot better. Hopefully next game will be his chance to shine!
(5) Stuart Lancaster’s quiet leadership
England’s head coach Stuart Lancaster is changing the face of English rugby by picking a relatively young and inexperienced team and moulding them. England officially have the youngest side and the side with the fewest caps. However, this affects their attitude and I think it’s the keenest and most hard working team ever – the boys under Stuart are grateful for their places and are constantly trying to improve rather than coasting on reputation, privilege and bravado. Lancaster motivates by common sense rather than by losing his temper and this would motivate his players to do what he wants. At the press conference he put England’s loss into perspective by reminding journalists that Wales lost their first Six Nations game in 2013 and went on to win the championship. He would have gone back to the dressing room after the match to inspire the team to get back on form for Scotland rather than picking out mistakes. I like his leadership strategy and the boys seem to be responding, given that they turned the game round in the second half after their half time dressing room chat from Lancaster.
I’m feeling confident for England’s chances against Scotland. Will you be watching it? It’s on BBC so whether you style it out at home or enjoy the atmosphere of a pub you’re in for a VIP experience. Trust me!
PS For match reports and full RBS Six Nations coverage, visit rugby lifestyle magazine Rugby Unplugged
PPS While I was there, I explored Paris. Stay tuned for a VIP destination guide to the French capital with info about restaurants, hotels and coffee shops.
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