I wrote once before about sport. An odd subject for me because the mere mention of a sporting event sets me off yawning. I remember saying how strange it was that although most of the world’s most popular sports originated in the UK, when it comes to competing in the world arena we are sadly lacking in expertise and excellence.
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Take for example tennis. It has its roots in Leamington Spa where it was first played in 1872. Last week arguably the greatest tennis tournament in the world ended in Wimbledon, London. When did the Brits last have a champion? Fred Perry in 1936!
But this isn’t really the subject of today’s ramble. I was thinking today about the rules of some of the most followed team sports here in England. The thing is that although many sports have a huge following, many of the fans simply don’t have a clue what’s going on!
Take the two most watched games here, football (soccer to my American friends) and rugby. It’s said that football is a gentleman’s game played by thugs, and rugby is a thugs game played by gentlemen! Again they both kicked off in England – pardon the pun!
Football is fairly easy to follow, but ask the average fan about the ‘off-side rule’ and you’ll get a look of confusion! As for rugby, well if there are rules they are very difficult to decipher. Take a look here and you’ll see what I mean! It’s a pretty rough game where 30 men go into battle with virtually no protective gear, and a squad of 14 reserve players stand by to take the place of the players that are injured and carted off to hospital!
But the most baffling game is cricket. We love it! And the biggest tournament of all is the Ashes. This is the contest which has been slogged out between England and Australia biannually since 1882. England was so disgusted with losing the first match that they said that cricket had died. A cricket ball was burned and the ashes in placed in an urn. Today that little urn is one of the most coveted prizes in world sport.
Right now the 2009 Ashes is taking place and for several days people will be talking about it, even though the games rules are a total mystery to many who follow it!
The reason I’m writing all this is that earlier today I came upon a simplified set of rules written especially for foreigners!
I present it to you now, and I hope that having read it you will be an expert in this dreariest of games!
1. You have two sides in the field. One is in and one is out.
2. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out
he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.
3. When they are all out the side that’s out comes in and
the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those that came in out.
4. Sometimes you get men still out and not out.
5. When both sides have been in and out including the not outs, the game is over.