Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Long Wait For Rugby to Return

WHEN Cheltenham ends every year, it’s a reason for me to celebrate.
I’m not into horse racing.
It is no different when Ascot ends.
Like Cheltenham, it is one of those 'sporting' occasions that leaves me absolutely cold.
In fact, one year when I was sent to Cheltenham to work for the newspaper which then employed me, I actually managed to go through the thing without seeing one horse, not even the statue of Arkle.
Even though I was sent there to cover the people, not the horses, I thought it a pretty serious achievement, one of which I am justifiably proud.
You see, I'm not terribly sure horse racing is a sport at all.

There were, for example 75,000 people in Croke Park this year year to watch the Irish team playing rugby. Let me rephrase that, to watch the Irish team trying to play rugby. I think it would be fair to say that the vast  majority of those who attended, or who watched on television, did not have the summer holiday/ten pints or the house riding on the result via a large wager.
Similarly soccer, which can be a sport when they're not in nightclubs or diving or trying to get their fellow professionals sent off, doesn't entirely rely on the fact that people place bets every now and then, for its survival.
But take the betting out of horse racing and what have you?
Well, a very, very small crowd indeed.
There are some who go just to watch the fine animals running. But they are in a tiny minority, which is a pity.
Because if it wasn't for all the people rushing, bumping into all and sundry as they go about placing their bets, horse racing might be quite a pleasant experience.
I also dread Wimbledon. I don't know what it is about tennis, but it bores me rigid. The only thing that keeps me awake is those damned women grunting. Even rugby players don’t grunt. Well, they don’t grunt much.
And I have to say that anyone who claims snooker is sport has obviously never played much in the way of games.
At least Cheltenham is over, Ascot is over. No more roars of 'Up ye boy ye" as I pass the bookies. No more shouts of "go on ye good thing' as I pass the pub.
And although the rugby season is all but over, it won’t be that long now until the weather closes in and the finest sport of them all returns in the Autumn. Well, today was the longest day of the year. And Christmas is just around the corner.
Mind you, when autumn arrives and we face up to the All Blacks again, it might just be a little less painful, to watch reruns of Wimbledon or Ascot.
Well, there's always the cricket...

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