What happened two weeks ago on Sunday, Feb 3? This very simple question would seem
almost stupid to ask to an American. It was the 27th Super Bowl, San Francisco against
Baltimore, of course.
But, ask this to a random European, and the answer would be very different. On Feb 3, in
Europe, it was the first round of the very well known Six Nations rugby competition.
Rugby is probably one of the most famous sports in Europe, right behind soccer. The Six
Nations competition is quite like the Super Bowl in Europe in terms of popularity. It opposes
the six best national rugby teams of Europe: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy and France.
Even if the Super Bowl is starting to be watched by more and more people every year, it cannot
compare. Everywhere in bars, rugby clubs and homes, every game day, you will see families,
supporters and friends gathering around the television to watch the rugby, and, of course, drink
lots of beer!
It is part of the European culture, something Europeans are very proud of. Although the
teams and the nations are part of the European Union, there is no more unity for eighty
minutes–the duration of one rugby game.
There is something special about this competition that makes it even more intense. You can
actually win the whole competition, even if you lose one of the five games. Of course, if you
win all five games, you will win the competition outright, but with the special accolade of being
dubbed “Grand Slam” champions as well.
It makes a very big difference that can sometimes change everything. This makes the games
and the Six Nations even more stressful for players and supporters. But, that is exactly what
every European rugby fans like about this special competition held from February until late
March: the adrenaline of watching its national team trying to win at every cost.
Unfortunately and unusually for the French rugby team, things have not started very well.
After losing against Italy and then Wales, chances of winning the 2013 Six Nations are now
totally gone. Regardless, watching the game for the beauty of the fight is enough. What is
coming next for France sounds really appetizing: an old rivalry against England is about to start
again. This confrontation opposing these two national rugby teams is famous for its battle of
supporters’ songs and for being a hard fight until the end. It is, however, not only a question of
rugby here, but also of history. A long history of quarrels that has made this game very special.
It even has a name, “The Crunch”, which sums up pretty well everything. The battle is set to be
played in the temple of the English rugby in London, the Twickenham Stadium on Feb. 23.
Maybe some curious Americans will be watching this game. Rugby is actually one of the
fastest-growing team sports in the United States, and it is believed that it will attract even more
fans for the next few years. With 115,000 members of rugby clubs and more than 750,000
kids playing rugby in middle and high schools, rugby has a very exciting future in the United
States–so exciting that it will probably hosts the 2023 Rugby World Cup for the first time on
the American continent, according to the International Rugby Board (IRB). There is no doubt
that there is a bright future for this sport that originally started in the little village of Rugby in
England in 1823.