Rugby rugby rugby. Cup cup cup. How many times have you heard the phrase? I’ve been working as a sub-editor lately and can confirm that every newspaper story written in New Zealand for the last two months has included a World Cup angle. Rugby rugby rugby.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the tournament immensely, it’s just I’ve heard the phrase Rugby World Cup fifteen hundred thousand times. Remember when you were at school and you got lines for being naughty? Imagine writing RWC out for every time you’ve heard the phrase. You’d go insane.
It’s not as if it rolls off the tongue nicely. In headlines we’re writing Cup, with the C up – C up for Cup – to stand for the whole thing. There’s a word for that – when one thing comes to stand for something larger (much larger: the hopes and dreams and clichés of a whole nation) which is ‘synecdoche’. Sin neck D’Key is how you say it. Doesn’t it roll off the tongue well? I’m not going anywhere with this, I was just saying…
Anyway. Rugger rugger rugger. Kup kup kup. Here are my thoughts so far.
The opening ceremony.
Was shit. I don’t mean the one at Eden Park – I hear that was excellent. I mean the made-for-TV cringe-fest down at the waterfront.
I was so embarrassed. There were pirouetting forklifts and a gospel choir on top of a building. Behind the choir was the giant neon sign for Tower Insurance with the T out of shot, so that all you saw was “ower”, like some kind of piss-take on the way we say “our”. Ower opening ceremony sucks, it seemed to say – and I didn’t disagree. The whole thing seemed designed to showcase our functioning port and wharf area, plus associated heavy industries, and reminded me of nothing more than the phoney Kazakhstan national anthem that Borat sings in his movie. “Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium / All other country have inferior potassium…”. I was so ashamed I curled up on a giant velvet couch and tried to hide – until I realised I was on Jonah Lomu’s suit.
Flags. This has been the most fun part of the tournament so far. Hundreds of cars are flying hundreds of flags, all flapping wildly in the breeze as they drive, and there’s no doubt that the winners of the “biggest and mostest” award for participation are the Tongans. In the nicest way, I had no idea there were so many Tongans in Auckland.
On Sunday I tried counting how many cars have some kind of flag on them, and it’s about one in every ten. There are 652,000 cars in Auckland, which means about 65,200 cars with flags. Now, I read that driving with roof racks reduces your fuel economy by ten per cent – and there’s no way those flags create less drag. The tournament runs for seven weeks, and I do two tanks of petrol in that time. Two tanks at $80 equals $160. Ten per cent of that is $16 – which multiplied by 65,200 comes to one million, forty-three thousand and two-hundred dollars spent on flapping bits of nationalistic cloth, and hell I reckon it’s worth it. Although Tongans – I think you’re footing about half of that guys.
And finally, Sonny Bill. Every tournament has a stand-out star, and my call is it’ll be Williams. His fundamental talent is turning disasters into magic. Witness his amazing out-of-the-depths-of-tackles offloads, which always seem to turn into tries – or the way he transformed a ripped Adidas jersey into gold by casually tearing off one black sleeve to reveal…. A TATTOOED SLEEVE UNDERNEATH.
Holy smoke, it’s like he wears the black jersey under his skin. Dozens of women swooned in ecstasy when they saw him pull that torn jersey off – they were the Adidas PR and marketing team. Remember your outrage at that “scandal” over the price of Adidas jerseys? Seems a long time ago huh. Disasters into magic – that’s the guy’s talent. And I reckon he could win us ower Cup.