The Rugby World Cup is coming and the stakes are higher than a sirloin on a NASA shuttle. Everything will be bigger, faster, more hyped, retweeted more often. It will be hard to keep up as your senses overload and the next big talking point comes along.
So to prepare you for that we’ve got a cheat sheet of sorts. See, there are a few things that are inevitable in a World Cup. There are a few things bound to happen, and we thought it best to let you know about them now, before your head starts spinning.
Keep your eyes peeled for these.
You know all about New Zealand’s Haka. You’ve seen it loads of times before and you might even recognise the words. What you may not have seen or heard before is the war dances of the other pacific nations. Tonga have the Sipi Tau. Samoa have the Siva Tau. Fiji have the cibi.
Fiji will perform theirs before facing England in the opening game of the World Cup and you’ll get to see the All Blacks do the Haka while Tonga reply with the Sipi. For the neutral or those unfamiliar with the game, it should make for spine-tingling stuff.
In much the same way, you will be treated to some of the finest, catchiest, most passionate and maybe most bizarre national anthems in the world.
The Latin countries are unrivaled for emotional, lusty renditions of their national tunes. All horns blasting and tears streaming, prepare for the hour-and-a-half introduction to Argentina and Uruguay’s anthems. Italy go in for the brass band brilliance too. You also get the over-the-top majesty of the star spangled banner as well as the bragging about how great their land is from the Canadians and the Aussies.
And hey, when else will you have ever heard the Namibian national anthem?
A World Cup wouldn’t be a World Cup without a card being dished out by an official and then the planet grinding to a halt. It could be a red card. It could be for something innocuous. It could all stem from an incident that is as close to grievous bodily harm as is possible without actually brandishing a weapon.
What we can guarantee is that no matter what the episode is, the referee will be in for a crazy amount of stick, the player punished will be both pilloried as a pariah and getting condolences as a martyr, and the good people of the sport’s governing body will be barricading themselves in at their headquarters.
New to the sport? You’d better bone up on what a drop goal is. So many big games are decided by the kick for goal during open play. Sometimes a whole World Cup can be decided by the skill – Jonny Wilkinson must be sick to death of talking about his Cup-winning effort for England in 2003 and we’re still blabbing on about the Springboks sharpshooter Jannie de Beer’s record five drops in 1999.
Think the DG is boring? Well you have to appreciate the craftsmanship involved. To carve out a kick with so many moving parts around the kicker on the field, when pressure is high, has to be appreciated.
Injuries happen at World Cups. It’s as unavoidable as sunburns in Spain. But with players falling by the medical bedside, there is an opportunity there for young stars to come out of nowhere and capture our imaginations.
We can’t say who it will be yet – that’s the beauty of it all – but we can say that there will be people taking part in this World Cup who you have never heard of, and one of them will blow you away.