Blogging Rugby League: Hull 18 Wigan 21
It’s been bloody difficult to see anything of this year’s championship play-offs; apparently there’s some sort of rugby union event going on. But I did manage to see Hull and Wigan last night. Which posed a problem – which of them do I hate more?
Anyway, last night’s game rocked the Pennines; it was incredibly close, and extremely loud in a way you hardly ever hear outside RL and (sometimes) football. There was some brilliant rugby, too – Gareth Raynor’s first try, for example. Chasing a grubber kick to the flag, he stole up on Leuluai, who was hoping to shield the ball off the park, and managed to touch down reaching around his legs; a pickpocket’s try. Wigan got ahead and ended up hanging on for the last 10 minutes in a succession of frantic drives.
It struck me that sport (as well as a lot of other human activities) is a way of manipulating time; the mark of a really good match, spectating or playing, is that at first time hurtles past (what, half-time already?) and then slows to a tension-ridden crawl. There is some science to this; it’s been suggested that the brain has a variable clock speed, increasing the rate at which it samples reality at moments of crisis and therefore giving the sensation of time passing very slowly.
Something similar occurs with Rugby League; the game’s administrators see their thought processes slow to a crawl at moments of crisis, so suddenly it’s 2007 and we haven’t had a World Cup for seven years. The difference is that everyone else experiences the intervening period passing incredibly slowly. This is really getting embarrassing; if you remember how good the Tongan, PNG, and Western Samoans were in 1995, and how good the corresponding rah-rah sides have been this year, it’s a disaster that they have had no meaningful international rugby since 2000.