February is here and that can only mean one thing. Rugby. This month will be dominated by the sport. The six nations starts soon and I am really looking forward to it. International rugby seems to produce the best quality rugby union and the sport should be proud of that. It is something I have felt that football should aspire to for a long time now as the Champions league has dominated the sport in terms of best quality.
There is something about the winter months that attracts me to Rugby. I don’t know if it is the ascetic appreciation of what takes place or a sense of recognition to the players battling it out in the wind, cold and rain. I have watched my local side play quite a lot in recent weeks and the sense of playing for each other is something else the prima donnas of football could learn about. It seems to transpire at all levels of the game and that is as valuable to team sport as individual flair and ability.
As I sat in the club prior to kick off I took stock of how I was feeling. Despite the cold weather and poor show from the opponents, I was happy to be there. I felt as though it was the least I could do as the team were about to run around with a high chance of pain in the cold weather. I realise they don’t play just to entertain those who go to watch but I do get the feeling they are grateful for the support.
As for who might win the 6 nations, who knows? England, with the resources available to them should win the tournament year on year and yet that is not the case. They are favourites again this year and probably rightly so and yet I would not like to call it. Much importance has been placed on the first game at the Millenium stadium against Wales in Cardiff. I do get the feeling that many seem to have forgotten the Irish claim to the tournament and you can never discount the unpredictable French. Anyway enough Rugby for now, as I said before, this time of year does seem to enhance my feelings for the game!
I have not long returned from my first lecture of the week and new semester. Work has been set which I have made a start on. I am grateful for this new start as my focus on university has been somewhat limited of late. I have spent a lot of my time with my head buried in books, unfortunately not uni books. My sister bought me ‘Fergie rises’ for Christmas. A biography of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Aberdeen. It is an utterly fascinating read and helps to explain how the man, now synonymous with Manchester United, was moulded and shaped as a manager from his time at Aberdeen. It is full of quotes and stories from those who played under him and worked with him. You can really see the process that built him as a football manager.
As a journalist I was really intrigued to read about how Jock Stein taught Sir Alex to use the media and even play them at times. The ‘mind games’ he became famous for were not directed purely at opposition managers and players but also (and probably more directly) at the press and media. He accused nearly every publication going of a ‘Glasgow bias’ and coerced some journalists into writing things they themselves did not believe. He developed relationships with those he felt he could trust and banned others from press conferences. All of this is common place at football clubs across the world nowadays but it wasn’t in the 80s and ‘Fergie’ has more to do with introducing this behaviour than most.
On the social life front life has been pretty quiet, other than watching rugby of course. I was sat around in a world of my own the other day thinking about how much time I dedicate to sport. I can’t imagine my life without it. I enjoy so much about it. From facts, dates and figures to ability and techniques. I love getting my head wrapped around tactics and piecing things together.
It is a shame there is no Monday night football tonight as I really enjoy listening to Neville and Carragher dissect the weekend games. Their involvement in punditry has raised the bar considerably and all other broadcasters have done their best to catch up. The analysis of sport is incredible nowadays and Sky must be praised for the work they have done since dismissing Keys and Gray.
Sorry to all the non sports lovers out there. This post (if you managed to stick with it) probably put you to sleep!