John McBeth: Watching The RWC in Australia
Having watched the opening few games of the Rugby World Cup whilst in Australia, I was reminded of the vast difference in attitude to the event amongst the sporting population of the two countries.
Here in New Zealand the RWC is given total saturation coverage - enough to incense all of those who couldn't give a toss about rugby. In Australia it's the opposite. The coverage there, or lack of, would drive a rugby lover to desperation. While Fox Sport is telecasting all games live, their free to air partner, Channel Nine is showing only limited matches. As Fox has nowhere near the percentage of subscribers that Sky does here, people living in or visiting Australia miss out.
Newspapers and electronic media coverage emphasises how low down the list rugby features in the Aussie sports popularity list. Stories about Jarryd Hayne, rugby league, Aussie Rules, Davis Cup tennis and Jason Day all took priority over the RWC.
While it was kind of pleasant not to be bombarded with rugby while I was in Sydney, I felt a certain amount of sympathy towards the Wallabies and their fans and supporters. It's no wonder they envy the amount of publicity and support afforded the All Blacks. We should congratulate the Wallabies on their ability to stay near the top of the international rugby rankings considering how low down they rate in their home country.
Meanwhile the All Blacks have produced their expected results and, while not overlooking their next two opponents, can look forward to the quarterfinals. Of more interest than their upcoming matches are those featuring Wales, England and Australia in Pool A and Scotland, Samoa, Japan and South Africa in Pool B. Naturally there's huge interest in the Pool featuring Ireland and France because it's from that group the All Blacks quarter final opponents will emerge.
In 2007 I arrived in Cardiff with a group of supporters who struggled to cope with the All Blacks loss to France.
I'm doing the same this year but with better coping tools just in case!