Whilst early spring traditionaly sees back pages dominated by the plumier version of the game, February 7th sees Egg Chasing Version B, more commonly known as rugby league, return to our screens. Cue another season of unbelievable scores, ludicrous tackling and the famed club mascots - basically a handful of blokes who can complete a backflip dressed in full animal regalia on the back of 5 shandys - is here to enjoy.
Rugby league enjoyed some limelight in autumn when the World Cup captured the minds of many a casual sports fan with some outrageous playmaking and a couple of thrilling semi-finals. As soon as the dying embers faded from Australia’s win over New Zealand however rugby league slipped back into the wilderness not to be heard of again for four years, like that distant cousin you barely know who travels the world on a shoestring before dropping into family weddings occasionally with a collection of terrible bead necklaces, some pots of homemade humus and a penchant for reminding you and your brother what a couple of ‘crap blokes’ you are.
Looking for your nearest pub showing Super League this weekend? Search no further.
But fear not, because league does exist between World Cups and in the form of Super League (UK) and National Rugby League (Aus/NZ) it’s more excitable than John Terry’s kit bag the night before a cup final he’s not playing in.
Here are 10 reasons why you should watch rugby league for forever more:
* It’s Cheaper Than Fussball
Season tickets for rugby league cost as little as 60 per cent of what footy does. You're poor, I’m poor, we’re all poor. Save on a footy ticket, buy a league ticket. Plenty of the best matches are on Friday evenings. A great warm up before a big night out boozing to forget how out of shape and penniless you are.
* It’s End To End Stuff
Remember that football match where you were so excited because the last 20 minutes were ‘end to end excitement’. Well that is rugby league. It’s literally how they play. Get the ball, have six tackles to score, after the sixth the other team gets a go. Find any negatives in that. Can’t? Thought not.
* No Collapsed Scrums
Egg Chasing Version A (union) is a great game, it really is, but a good 30 minutes of any given union tie seems to revolve around watching 16 confused blokes mash into each other, fall over, get told off, reset and repeat. It’s a Rick Waller sized pile of BS if you ask me mate - league is much the better for its uncontested scrums. Set, feed, go. More end to end excitement. Woo.
* Technology Works
League was one of the first sports to utilize and embrace video technology in order to assist referees with big decisions. Old Sepp ‘Blatton down the hatches before my closets explode’ should take note of its success.
It is used in at least 50 per cent of tries and has become a celebrated part of the game, finding yet another reason to play that Fratelli’s song at every opportunity. League knows when to borrow a good thing. That renowned ditty is a cross-sport phenomenon. Seriously, it’s more recognisable than the National Anthem. Food for thought?
* Ryan Giggs, Mark Webber, Wayne Rooney and Bradley Wiggins Love It
And who doesn’t love Ryan Giggs, Mark Webber, Wayne Rooney and Bradley Wiggins? Well Ryan's crother, Chris Froome and Sebastien Vettel. There's three off the bat. Anyway, that's beside the point.
* They Have Cheerleaders
Fine. Probably why Ryan Giggs loves it.
* Kevin Sinfield Has A Perma-frown To Rival Stevie G
* They Still Use Big Tin Baths
These got wiped out of most sports during the 1980’s for some spurious reasoning regarding hygiene. They definitely still prevail throughout the country in some amateur rugby clubs however. The reasons: water bill savings means more money for beerz and big dinners. Also, camaraderie nowadays is a game-changer in sports teams didn’t you know. No amount of milk-crate tower construction in team bonding camps can be more successful in gaining trust than a bunch of blokes marinating their chestnuts in some filthy water. I have no doubt Manchester United would be contending the Premier League title this year if they still had a big tin bath.
* Comedy Commentary
Who doesn’t love a crazy old coot having a near breakdown on the microphone? See exhibit A in this article. You WILL NOT regret the following couple of minutes of your life.