October 29,2003

G'day fellow Ruggers,

It's time to rant like I've never ranted before. With the RWC going on down under, topics are flowing through me like poop through a goose. So, blow the whistle and let's get started. First off, a little disclaimer, I hope that you're watching the RWC, otherwise much of my meanderings won't make sense, not that I make sense on a normal basis.

Congratulations to the U.S. for winning their first world cup match since 1987. They should have won one against Romania in the last RWC, but that's already been written about. I still feel that this World Cup is going to be a disappointment for the US (unless they come up with a really strong showing against the French.) They should have beaten Fiji- plain and simple. If you want to be in the top 10 Rugby Nations in the world, you have to have kickers that are on for every game. Our fly half didn't produce and it cost us the game. I've never researched it, but I'm quite sure that the statistical data for kickers in the top 10 rugby nations would put NFL field goal kickers to shame.

Don't ya hate it when you see a score of 142 to 0 (Australia vs. Namibia)? It almost makes me want to start watching soccer where a score of 2-0 might be considered a blow-out. I'm sorry, but the RWC needs to restructure their competition. It would, at least, make for some more exciting Rugby. When qualifying for the RWC is complete, they need to take the top 12 and the second 12 in rankings and split them up into two different tournaments. I've been taping these games ad nauseum (much to the chagrin of my Rugby widow.) Frankly, I feel that even though the cassette tapes only cost me $0.50, I'm still wasting my money. I think that it would be a much more exciting tournament if, in pool play, you had (for example) New Zealand, Scotland, Italy or Australia, England, Ireland. On the other side of the tournament, with Canada, US, Namibia, Georgia, etc…. the US would actually have a legitimate shot at winning. I would guarantee that there would be fewer blowouts and better competition, both for competitors and spectators. A final thought on that- can you believe that 142-0 isn't even a RWC record? The current record is 145-0.

Seeing that I sell, arguably, the world's greatest Rugby jersey (Knockout Sportswear jerseys), I would be remiss if I didn't mention the new “sweet, slim and trim” jerseys being worn by New Zealand, England, France and South Africa. Again, statistically, I'm not sure of the advantage being gained by wearing a skin tight jumper, but traditionally, I think it's a travesty of the sport, topping that of headgear and shoulder pads. At least with Knockout Sportswear, even though you're sublimating the design, they can appear as traditional as the traditional cotton jerseys, if you so choose. I can tell you this - Nike is a bit red in the face, considering that in a recent England match, they lost 4 jerseys due to tearing (speaks highly for their product, doesn't it?)

I don't know if you caught it the other night, but in the France-Scotland match, during the Scottish National Anthem, the players for Scotland (in a form of silent protest), all slightly twitched their heads when the camera highlighted them. The reason for this is that one of their players was banned for dirty play, and he happens to have a small head twitch. Frankly, I am a little more nationalistic than the Scottish National Rugby team. I think that form of protest is an abomination to their country, and that they should be embarrassed. I am all for protest, but you need to pick and choose your times. The only thing that their protest taught me is that they don't seem to care much about being Scottish, and to me that's crahp (say it with a Scottish Accent, it will make more sense.)

Pat Laczkowski
Front Row Outfitters