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August 14, 2006

Rugby sevens at Twickenham

Rugby_twickers On Saturday I went to Twickenham with my dad and some of his friends to watch the Rugby 7s. It was a pretty full-on day, with twenty matches to get through between the opener at 11am and the final at around 5:30. In fact, it started so early that the first game had begun before the bars at Twickenham had opened, which was quite a shock to the regular rugby goers.

Rugby fans are very different from football fans, We were sitting in amongst people who had bought their tickets via NEC Harlequins. When Quins weren't playing they mostly seemed happy to cheer on any other London team, and would generally applaud every point scored, whether for or against them. I can't quite see Chelsea fans happily switching their alleigance to Arsenal or West Ham during a five-a-side tournament at the drop of a hat like that - and people generally only applaud conceding a goal in football if you are already 7-0 up against some plucky F.A. Cup minnow, or it was some kind of wonder goal. Or if you are Leeds fan stuck in with the QPR fans pretending to be ecstatic about a last minute equaliser.

Rugbyvests As a football man myself, I couldn't help also notice some other big differences. Colour clashes between kits didn't seem to be so much of an issue - so you ended up with one game where a team in green were playing a team in slightly darker green, on a green pitch, against a backdrop of spectators wearing green replica shirts sitting in green bucket seats. And that was acceptable. When a colour clash was deemed too much, one of the teams simply stripped down to their unsponsored and unnumbered vests. I can't see that ever happening in the highly commercial world of football.

Rugbysaracensmascot One of the London teams playing were Saracens. It is one of those names that I always took for granted when the rugby results were read out, but suddenly I realised where the name came from. It is a Christian term for Muslims that was mostly used from the Crusades onwards, and is fairly derogatory. It seems a little bit crass to be called that still, rather like having a rugby team called "the fuzzie-wuzzies" or "johnny foreigners". They didn't endear me to them on the racial enlightenment front by having a mascot consisting of a man in a camel suit wearing a fez. Although to be honest, the guy acting in the suit was by far the funniest of the mascots on offer.

The streaker quotient was lower than I expected - only two fully nude blokes and then one guy in a naked woman fat suit, but there were plenty of guys dressed up as brides and nuns and vikings and stuff so I couldn't moan too much.

On the other hand, I had to have a gripe about the band. Every time there was a score a live band would pop up with a quick sting of Tina Turner's "Simply the best" or Queen's "Don't stop me now". It soon wore pretty thin as during the course of the matches they only had about ten different tunes to choose from, including a regular brief blast of Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling", which is frankly unwelcome at any time. The band also thought they were some kind of 'hot stuff' as they kept parading around the edge of the pitch away from the stage.

Rugbynothotstuff

I had a really good day though. We were supporting Harlequins and they lost in the semi-final, which was a disappointment, but we had a good laugh, and of course, a very good drink-up. And after a few pints you had to pinch yourself to make sure that the sight of eight or nine blokes in animal costumes going at each other with bendy foam wooden spoons was really happening in front of you.

Rugbymascotbashing

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Comments

I WAS AT THE SEVENS AND SPOKE TO THE BAND AFTER AND THEY WERE A GREAT BUNCH OF GUYS WHO HAD BEEN THERE ALL DAY PLAYING NON STOP. THEY REALLY MADE THE DAY FOR ME AS IT WAS SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT FROM THE NORMAL ANNOUNCEMENTS. APPARANTLY THEY WERE GIVEN A LIST OF SONGS TO DO AS THEY ALL HAD A REFERENCE TO THE TEAMS PLAYING. LETS HAVE MORE LIVE MUSIC AT MATCHES. j

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