And suddenly it is as if the city stops. London, October 2015. Official hosts of the 2015 RWC. Game day. Hit the national pause button. And those of nations taking to the field to stand tall and fight hard for their colours, their nation’s rugby honour, their personal dreams.
Whether in front of a television set, fan zone jumbo screen, stadium full of screaming fans, or computer screen following each move and moment, with each refresh of the score the heart seems to skip a beat. And it is only the Quarter Finals stage! As the match progresses, and muscles of the sports warriors on the field in national colours are pushed to points of pain beyond articulation, passion and determination thankfully eclipsing any feeling, so too are the muscles of spectators left feels weary as close, too close, matches play out. Come its final whistle, those not physically involved, at least not involved on the field, cannot help but laugh at themselves wondering why they are feeling so completely exhausted!
How can it be that a sport followed by so fewer than other main games such as football (soccer in US) can generate such fever pitch among followers, and nationals, alike? It is quite remarkable looking at the Top 10 global fan following numbers, Football topping the charts at an estimated over 3.5 billion fans (just under half of the world’s population), with Cricket coming in at over 2.5 billion, and interestingly, Field Hockey at 2 billion. Tennis at half that amount, with Volleyball just under the 1 billion mark, Table Tennis at 850 million, and then a jum downwards for the final four of the Top 10: Baseball at 500 million, Golf at 450 million, Basketball and American Football each at 400 million. Rugby, surprisingly, does not even feature in the Top 10, and yet at this exact moment, as the national anthems are being sung, the world of sport is watching.
Just a matter of seconds now before the RWC Finals begin, Australia’s Wallabies staring down New Zealand’s All Blacks as the Haka marks the call to battle, 80,000 electrifies followers raising the temperature of the tournament in the stadium as millions upon millions watch from across host country the UK, and the world.
This is the magic of sport, the awe of the human spirit being drawn together around a shared passion for not just the game, but for their flags.With an audience of over 750 million, and an event generating over US$ 350 million, this is truly a world in union, and an absolute win for the global community.
As for the rugby, the champions are about to emerge.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015