Jay Meehan: Giving the Rugby World Cup a try
Over this past weekend, my “mirror neurons” ran amok. They were “selling the dummy,” hitting high-draws into the wind, and completing circus-catches in the red-zone. When all was said and done, trauma teams and disaster clean-up crews were having their way with what was left of my right cranial hemisphere.
Which is to say, I spent most of my time with a TV gizmo following the Rugby World Cup, PGA Tour golf, and college football. Baseball, since the Dodgers recent post-season debacle, is currently standing in the corner wearing a dunce hat. What it will take for it to return to my good graces is anybody’s guess.
Binging on the Rugby World Cup may not be pegging my dopamine flow to the extent that finding myself midway through an involuntary Shaun White Double-McTwist 1260 once did, but it bloody sure ain’t bad. Slamming into a hip-high Schwinn parked perpendicular to the touchline at a Mucker match will do that.
By the way, no beer cups were injured during the recollection of that event. Pride, however, suffered a dislocation. Mates who witnessed the thrill-seeker routine didn’t cut much slack.
Communicating via group chat with Park City Rugby Football Club founders Corky Foster and “Alamo Dave” Mueller, not to mention a cadre of analytical “ringers” brought in from afar for the occasion, kept us World Cup junkies in the moment.
Sensing my inaccurate jargon, slang and/or parlance might call for a “yellow card,” I pretty much kept my own counsel. As with Howard Cosell, I never played the game.
Within the jungle of “pool-play” and “knock-out-rounds,” however, jaws have dropped. The invincible New Zealand “All Blacks,” generally the most-skilled and, in many ways, the Goliath of the sport, found themselves on the short end of their match with England. Bloody shocking, it was.
They will line up against Wales, who dropped a somewhat-brutal but elegant semifinal match to South Africa, for third place at 3:00 a.m. MST Friday morning. Twenty-four hours later, it’s England taking on South Africa for all the marbles.
Actually, as far as my golf viewing over the weekend, it was basically condensed to watching Tiger Woods’ final round as he chased down Slammin’ Sammy Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins. He did it and I gave it the ol’ fist-pump. Go figure.
Following his showing-up at the White House and allowing Trump to drape the Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck, Tiger, initially, woke up in my doghouse. I even reserved a dunce-hat corner for him, but somehow, I couldn’t stay away. Neurosis appears to be my default position. But you knew that.
An interesting bonus sidebar came out of having both the RWC and PGA in Japan at the same time. Someone, maybe at the network, recorded and posted online some private banter between Tiger and Rory. McIlroy filled Woods in on the current status of the World Cup and, dutifully, even answered a few follow-up international rugby questions.
Then there were my University of Southern California Trojans who, playing the University of Colorado at Boulder, found a way to first dig themselves into a deep hole before, by the skin of their teeth, emerging triumphant for their first road victory of the season.
The fact that they remain in control of the Pac-12 South, however, is rather misleading. Although they found a way to defeat Utah in LA, the Utes are fielding a much superior squad this year and, to win the South, the Trojans would more than likely have to win their four remaining conference games.
Having Oregon, also a much superior squad, on the schedule for this coming Saturday in LA, further illustrates Southern Cal’s problems. Miracles do happen, however, and the possibility of celebrating the Trojans as Pac-12 South champs is not totally outside the realm of possibility.
Of course, before this weekend’s no-doubt neurotransmitter-rich competitions are in the books, escape mechanisms for emerging from deep holes yet to be dug must be ironed out. There are wrinkles in time that the resident single-malts will no doubt have to deal with before all is said and done – or even inferred, for that matter.
If you promise not to mention it to my mate Donovan, I’ll let you in on a secret. My favorite rugby side is whoever happens to be playing the English Rugby Union National Team at any given moment. One would think I would appear more magnanimous in my commentary concerning such a gentlemanly sport. Nah!
By the way, what World Series?
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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