There is war in the South Pacific! Once every four years, warriors from some 20 nations meet in contest on the field of war. This testosterone laden spectacular is known as the Rugby World Cup and in 2011, it is being fought on New Zealand soil.
For rugby fans like the squirrel, the next six weeks is an adrenaline feast of action, drama and machismo strutting. New Zealand’s team, also known as the All Blacks are the winning-est team in rugby union history. They have won 75% of their international matches since records started in 1903. Only 5 other nations have ever defeated them in a game. They are also the leading point scorers of all time and the only international team with a winning record against every other nation that they have ever played.
Yet, despite such credentials, New Zealand has only won the Rugby World Cup once in 1987 which was the very inaugural World Cup. Since then, Australia won twice in 1991 and 1999; South Africa also won twice in 1995 and 2007; while England picked up the title in 2003.
South Africa returned to world cup rugby only in 1995 after being boycotted due to its apartheid policies. However, with Nelson Mandela at the helm of the country, he made it a point of ensuring that South Africa’s team was racially integrated and represented all South Africans. Much beyond expectation, the team,the Springboks, managed to narrowly defeat New Zealand in the finals and in doing so helped galvanise and unite the newly democratic nation. This inspirational story is captured in the Clint Eastwood film, “Invictus” which starred Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.
Based on performances in the last four years, the All Blacks should be the overwhelming favorites and they were named the international team of the year for 2006, 2008 and 2010. Yet, they lost their last two international matches immediately before this World Cup against arch-rivals Australia and South Africa and that makes some wonder if the All Blacks will continue to under perform in this World Cup. Based on recent form, Australia must be considered a real threat to All Black’s aspirations.
I know that has been a lot of sports talk in the paragraphs above. So as compensation to the ladies, I offer to you a video of hunky, sweaty men and much testosterone flying about. This is the confrontation between New Zealand and the Pacific island nation of Tonga in the opening match of this Rugby World Cup 2011. Both teams perform their traditional Haka (New Zealand) and Sipi Tau (Tonga) which are their respective, traditional ways of offering a challenge to their enemies on the field of war. Be afraid……be very afraid.
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