Just because I think baseball is boring …

… doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a worthy of calling it a sport. And just because at times in my life, I’ve had the pleasure of writing for a media organization, doesn’t mean I filled those column inches by talking out of my ass.

Clearly, these two idiots would disagree. And it seems, do talk out of their asses. And further, it’s a bit of mixed message from the NY Press in both promoting rugby one week and then letting these all-stars spew their thoughts out on paper the next. I had heard the NY Women were writing a letter in response, but didn’t want to tease people any longer by not sharing this.


SULLIVAN: I was recently on Randall’s Island investigating a story on a serial mugger when I came upon a disturbing sight. A group of lumpy middle-aged men in striped shirts looked like they were sexually assaulting a little man on the bottom of a pile of humanity.

When the dust cleared I realized that the men were playing the quaint and ancient game of rugby. Rugby is a sport that evolution passed by—see football—but it is kept alive, at least in America, by college students and old frat boys who still want to play a sport that makes them feel like some kind of rough and tumble men. Watching them play this silly sport is sort of like seeing a flock of dodo birds do their flightless fowl thing.

Now outside America, rugby is huge, as is Australian football, but I’ll be damned if I can tell the difference between the two, other than the fact that the Aussies wear those embarrassing short shorts while they bounce around the pitch.
In September 2007 there will be a Rugby World Cup, which the International Rugby Board claims that more than 3 billion people will watch. I don’t buy that number, but if rugby is big in the world, I still don’t care. That number is inflated. Rugby is even more boring than soccer and NASCAR and that is saying something.

HOLLANDER: Three billion? That must take into account the world’s prison population. Maybe the sport enjoyed a huge boost in popularity last week after NY Press put out its “Rugby Special”—no doubt an historic first in the annals of New York City print media.

In interests of full disclosure, I must admit I’ve never played rugby. Having watched it, however, I’ll stick with the bliss of my ignorance. I won’t soon forget the summer of 2000 I spent on a semi-secluded beach in the Gulf of Thailand as the lone American amongst packs of Aussies and Brits who tried to explain to me the difference between rugby and Australian Rules football. Thank God there was plenty of weed to dull their droning. Seizing the high ground, I assured one new friend from New Zealand that such a patently racist team name as the “All Blacks” would not go over well in the States. He kindly explained that the name had nothing to do with the racial composition of its players. Oh, I see.
Look, I could connect to their passion for it. I could relate to their rivalries. But, as you say, the sport itself comes off like the under-evolved ancestor of American football. The contest appears to deemphasize any demonstrations of the athletic skill at its higher levels. Speed and dexterity seem nonexistent. Rugby has only the rudiments of sport. By today’s standards, it is relatively unimaginative and almost Cro-Magnon in its objectives. It’s as if a sub-human species lacking opposable thumbs created a game about moving a ball forward.
So, yes, it’s a sport—just not one I can get that into.

SULLIVAN: Well, I have trouble with any contest that has the No. 1 ranked team in the world of rugby as New Zealand. Nothing against the Kiwis, but they have all of 4 million people living in the country. New York City has double the people that live on those South Pacific islands so either they are really good athletes or rugby is—at best—a fringe sport that few play; therefore a small country can rule the rugby roost.

Now speaking of fringe sports, I would rather watch the rousing Irish game of hurling. Hurling is like an insane combination of football and baseball. In the spring, make your way up to Gaelic Park in the Bronx and watch wild Irishmen swing clubs and hit balls as they tackle and maim each other. It is like some ancient game of roller ball.
Rugby, by comparison, just looks so fey, especially when the men butt up and get into a scrum. There is just too much ass contact for extended periods for me to watch a game for very long. I never played the game, but I’ve watched it enough to know of what I speak. I have also seen Brokeback Mountain. They looked pretty similar to me.

HOLLANDER: Before you make many of us hurl, I will shunt aside your backwoods homophobia and redirect us to the issue at hand. There’s plenty to make us uncomfortable about rugby—that it’s long been the province of prep school types, that it’s simply a pretext to get drunk and hit somebody, etc. What makes me squirm is the word “scrum.” It sounds like a contraction for the word “scrotum.” Or it’s shorthand for combining two words, “scrotum” and “scum.” Whatever it is, there’s an onomatopoeic quality to “scrum” that feels dirty. I Googled “scrum” and, lo and behold, there’s a scrum.com, offering comprehensive news, scores, standings and everything else that’s rugby. I felt sick, like I had scrum all over me.

But I’ll give credit where credit is due. Nando Parrado played rugby. Who is Nando Parrado? He was part of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed deep in the Andes Mountains October 1972. In order to survive without food and water for 72 days in the lifeless glacier, Parrado and his teammates ate the flesh of their dead friends. Facing his own imminent death, Parrado and another teammate left the plane wreckage clothed merely in layered sweatshirts and trekked on foot for 10 days all the way to find help in Chile. In the process they scaled a 15,000 foot peak that not even the most experienced mountain climbers equipped with all the best gear would attempt to conquer, especially not at that time of year. Parrado did it with sneakers and his bare hands. He survived. And he led a rescue expedition back to the crash site to save his teammates.

In his recent memoir of survival, Miracle in the Andes (Crown), Parrado explained that “rugby was more than a game, it was a sport raised to the level of moral discipline.” He believed that “no other sport taught so devoutly the importance of striving, suffering and sacrificing in pursuit of a common goal.”

“Most all of all,” said Parrado, “the game demanded that teammates develop an unshakeable sense of trust.” Where would Nando Parrado be today without rugby?

So, practice your freedom of speech and let the NY Press know that these two idiots are wrong about rugby. E-mail editorial@nypress.com and astrange@nypress.com (assignment editor). And it seems this is a typical piece of writing for these guys. Jen in MN sent me an earlier piece on golf.

Update: Here’s a different one on the NYC Marathon. It seems these two just like to start pissing matches with sports fans.

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10 responses to “Just because I think baseball is boring …

  1. Anonymous

    Not to generate a conspiracy theory but there are plenty of forces in North America that have monetary motivation for beating down rugby. These forces include most contact sports but most obviously football. Once articles of the positive sort start to get published about rugby then the attention of the gridiron lobby gets involved. I doubt players feel this way since football and rugby players mostly see each other as part of the same family and have a healthy respect/interest in each other. It is more owners and their PR folks. To them rugby can do nothing other than eat at their profit margins – so they get catty.

    Another possibility is that there are plenty of non-athletic elements in Manhattan so I wouldn’t take the article too seriously. Many folks who are involved in the arts don’t fancy athletics. Other demographics segments include the Michael Alig types of the 90s who had more of an interest in main-lining heroine or snorting Special-K than anything else. The envious will only look at our beloved sport with a jaundice eye. We can’t make everyone happy and not everyone will love us. Overacting to this silly article may only make them feel powerful in some twisted way.

    I think the “homo” remarks are goofy and adolescent. Fact is the same applies to football & hockey. And sure, there are gay rugby players.

    About the Kiwi remark, the informed and worldly know that the smaller population countries of New Zealand & Australia have totally athletic cultures at multiple levels. American’s & Brits move to NZ just to be part of that excellent outdoors lifestyle. And look at how Australia has been such a powerhouse in swimming for decades. Their love of sport makes them great at sport.

    Again, I think this article in NY Press is just baiting by a couple of commentators. A few retorts to the editor are fine but we shouldn’t overact. We don’t want to alienate the folks at NY Press who like us.

  2. Blondie

    I actually agree with you anonymous (even though you should’ve signed off with a name). I think these guys are just trying to get a rise out of their readership and I hadn’t planned on writing in to them and giving their idiocy the attention they are obviously craving. That said, I don’t mind posting the info pass on to me from readers who would like others to write in.

    Not so sure about the conspiracy theories, although it does provide some mental fodder.

  3. OBG

    Oh, geez, I think it’s funny. Sure they’re wrong, but I think they’re the first ones who know that. It’s farcical writing. And not bad, either. Heck, I may even check out their publication now.

  4. Vincent

    Trolling in the media rather than on the web……

    Vigorous trolling has to be a sign that you guys (I’m a Brit) are going places in turning US Rugby from a marginal sport into something which cannot be ignored.

    Notice how they didn’t dare attack female rugby.

    Stranger yet, 20% of the piece is given over to honouring one of Rugby’s greatest heroes.

    What to do with a troll? Ignore it, and when the sun comes up, it will turn to stone.

  5. Rodney

    I agree with the original artical.

    First though, lets get this whole thing straight, there are two codes of Rugby, one is Rugby Union which you guys are talking about, and the other is Rugby League.

    In Australia, Rugby Union is the smallest of our fooball codes, Rugby League is the Big sport.

    Rugby Union had a world cup in Australia in 2003, yet 2 years before the tournament, they put out the TV ratings for it saying that 3 billion people would watch it lmao.

    In fact, only 22 million people watched the final world wide, with on 2 million outside of England and Australia bothering to tune in.

    Rugby Union likes to pretend it’s a major sport, but the only place it’s major is New Zealand, a country with 4 million people.

    They have won their WC once, Australia has won it twice and this is with it being the least popular sport in the country.

    They can’t get the kids to play it unless they go to private schools and force them too.

    Now with Rugby Union being a pro game since 1995, they can buy Rugby League players and coaches without being banned for life, this is how Rugby union in Australia gets to be so high up compared to the level of support is has or the numbers playing it.

    Not once since the 2003 RUWC has any game of Rugby Union made the top 100 shows on TV in Australia, that includes Free to air and Pay TV.

    Here is the 2005 TV figures.


    Now Rugby League in Australia is the sport we play and follow, it has all the top spots and gets the crowds to their games, it’s been Pro Rugby for 112 years in Australia and England, over here it’s called the NRL- National Rugby League and we have a team from NZ playing called the NZ Warriors and in England it is called the European Super League, the English having a team from France playing called the Les Catalan dragons.

    Please when you guys fight over such a crap slow dull inbred sport like Rugby Union, please call it it’s real name, Rugby union, we in Rugby League don’t want anything to do with tossers of the so called upper classes who think they are gods gift to the world.

    If you want to Learn about the two codes, i’ll give you a few sites to visit.


    http://www.rlfans.com and this site here you can watch games.


  6. Matt

    Erm, Rodney, I went to a public school and played Rugby by choice. Not once was I made to feel as an outsider or anything like that. This is no place for a league troll. Your views are entirely misplaced, I am not from the upper classes, I am a stablehand. Besides, nobody really cares about TV ratings.

  7. Blondie

    Here, Here Matt!

    Sorry Rodney, but no rugby leagues around here … I’ll let someone who plays league blog it.

    And like Matt, I’m a country, public school kid all the way. Your argument holds no water in the States. 🙂

  8. Pollywoffle


    I think you will find Matt is an Australian living in Brisbane. He is a union fan but spends a lot of time trolling on rugby league web sites.

    I would like correct a bit of the terminology used in the article.

    As Rodney said there are two types of ‘rugby’ – ‘rugby league’ & ‘rugby union.’

    In Australia rugby league is called rugby-it is the 13-a-side game & is by a wide margin the more popular. Rugby union or union as it is commonly called is similar to union in the USA. Apart from the 100 or so full-time professionals the playing strength is largely made-up of unfit & substandard athletes.

    Now each to his or her own I suppose. However, what I object to as a rugby league supporter is having our game & players lumped into the same category as union players.

    The 13-a-side rugby has the better players & athletics. They are fitter, faster, stronger;they are better paid & had a higher profile.

    Anyway having got that off my chest I found the article very interesting.

  9. Rodney

    Yes matt, err I mean Redsfan, you sure are a down to Earth type of guy with no snobbery in you at all.

    Maybe I should post a few of your last posts at League unlimited or planet punt monkey?

    Let these young people here who have no idea about any Rugby make up their own mind huh?

    It amazes me that any country that takes up Rugby Union, has it bashed into them to hate Rugby League before they even see a game, anyone with an ounce of brains would think the guys doing this are scared of it?

    You know the old sayings Red?

    It’s the devils game, only bogans play it, or rapists, murderers, scum, baby killers, the unclean and so on.

    If it’s that bad mate, why is it your code (union) has been involved with some of the most despicable people to ever walk the Earth?

    Nazis in France, White minority South Africans with apartheid and we can’t forget the Italians either, what was the name of their leader who played Rugby and sided with Hitler?


    Not to mention the glass being broken on feilds in France and South Africa to stop children playing RL, yes Red, your code has a very good and proud history.

    Tell me Redsfan, which code in England had the first black player and black captain of their country?

    Was it

    A Union
    B League
    C Soccer

    Now Redsfan, which code invited the Jews to form a comp in Sydney so they would get involved?

    Was it

    A Union
    B League
    C Soccer

    Redsfan, which code won a WC in sport first for England-Great Britain?

    Was it

    A Union
    B League
    C Soccer

    Redsfan, which code has been investigated for fraud and other misdeads by the Lords of parliament in England?

    Was it

    A Union
    B League
    C Soccer

    Redsfan, which Rugby code was Pro first
    A Union
    B League

    And which code could you go out an bye a big house with a nice car yet still be called an amature while in Pro Rugby League, they had to have jobs during the week?

    Why is it Campese said to Ricky Stuart, don’t play League, come to Italy and you can earn more playing amature Union than Pro Rugby League?

    Once you know the answers to all these questions, you’ll have an idea why Union is despised In Australia the North of England, South France and Auckland.

    Also one last thing red, give me the names of all the club Rugby teams in Australia who have nothing to do with Private schools.

    It shouldn’t take long, should it?

  10. Rodney

    Blondie, if you think there is no Rugby League in NY, let alone the USA, you have no idea about any Rugby.






    Are these teams around the NY area, or are we making them up and lying?

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