A Non-Fan’s Guide to Surviving Super Rugby

rugby quino-al-322771-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

(Originally posted on BrightRock Change Exchange)

If you’ve been following sports lately, there is no doubt that the next four months are going to be tough. People on every side of the divide are going to argue the odds on entitlement, fairness, bad decisions, history and honour. They will do this with staunch patriotism and venomous anger.

Fiery debate will cost friendships and strain even the most ardent relationships. Whole branches of families will stop talking to whole other branches of families. We’re in for one hell of a ride, otherwise known as the Super 18 rugby tournament.  Or Super Rugby, if you’re a proper fan.

Which I am not, despite proclaiming as much during last year’s World Cup. I thought I might be, but it turns out that was just a momentary lapse of reason, having been caught up in all the excitement. It couldn’t last.

I am back to being a devout non-fan, and as the Southern hemisphere gears up for the world’s largest provincial rugby tournament, I thought I might share some survival tips on how to make it through this Super Rugby silly season.

Here are the basics of Super Rugby. Provincial teams from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and for the first time, Argentina and Japan, will take each other on to prove who the best rugby club in the world is.

Top teams historically vying for the title are South Africa’s Sharks, Bulls and Stormers, and from the lands down under, the Brumbies, Reds, and Blues. Japan is fielding a pack of Sun Wolves, and Argentina’s Jaguars are creating a worrying rumble in the ranks. Then there are other less prodigious teams, whose names I won’t bore you with.

Matches are played every Friday and Saturday for four months. Fans from all over the world will bring their lives to a standstill as they cheer on their champion teams. There will be beer. Lots of it. There will be braais barbequing whole butcheries’ worth of meat. And there will be arguments., mostly with the TV set when a deplorable decision is made by the all-too-human refs

So how do normal humans navigate the next 16 weeks of savage chaos and upheaval? Here are my tips:

1. Do it for the relationship. Plenty of women and one or two men I spoke to are not and have never been great rugby fans. But for the love of their partners, they watch the games and cheer like they mean it. So, just grin and bear it. Smile and fake it. This is the brave option, because you are subjected to all the crazy, loud cheering and hours of rugby watching, often at ungodly times of the morning.

2. Limit your social media time. You may be as addicted to your smartphone and your social media connections as I am to mine. But for the next four months, your only hope of surviving the Super Rugby insanity is to avoid all the fandom, ref critiques and cat calls that will pollute your timelines. Put your phone down and look up. Engage with real life. Or the real life that is not directly seeking out a Super Rugby high.

3. Invest in heavy duty headphones. In South Africa, many of us have to endure loud neighbours. They get louder during Super Rugby, and there are only so many times you can call the cops before you end up looking anti-social. A good pair of headphones plugged into an MP3 player, laptop or smart device removes most of the neighbourly noise, and at least half of the commotion.

4. Travel. Get on your mountain bike or into your Landy and go bundu bashing, somewhere where there is no TV and no phone signal. Take a long walk on the beach, up the mountain or anywhere that is not likely to bring you into contact with the hordes of Super Rugby fans.

5. Hang in there. It’s just four months. And you’ve survived worse, right? Right? Nothing that comes to mind right now, but still…you can do this!

© Dave Luis for BrightRock.


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