The Rugby World Cup held plenty of interest with expat Cayman residents, irrespective of whether the sport is widely played in their homeland or not.
The sport barely registers among the myriad of choices in America, yet Scott Ruby and his wife Miles monitored games throughout the tournament and were at Lone Star on Saturday to watch New Zealand beat Australia 34-17 to retain the title. Dan Carter was the star, scoring 19 All Blacks points.
“I’ve always loved rugby, it’s a beautiful game and poetry in motion,” said Scott who played club rugby in his home town.
“The final was all about possession for the All Blacks and Dan Carter. He scores more than anybody.”
Ruby has always followed the All Blacks and is impressed with their commitment to not just being the best but staying at the top. “You’re not just a dynasty because someone calls you that, they show up to every match,” he said.
He expected them to remain world champions after their 2011 triumph but never anticipated an easy passage. “I knew they were going to have some tough ones. South Africa played them well in the semifinals, taking the ball out of the All Blacks’ hands.
“And the Australians relied on tactical kicking, but eventually it was going to wear them out. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball.”
Ruby admits that rugby has “just not caught on in the U.S.” and even his playing of it for a ship building team in Newport, Virginia was “pitiful, beer-league and sloppy” although he thoroughly enjoyed it. “It was horrible, but we didn’t want to play softball,” he laughed. He liked the no-holds-barred physicality of rugby and the camaraderie. A big American football fan too, Ruby prefers rugby’s wonderful team spirit.
Miles admits that it was Scott who piqued her interest in rugby but initially she wondered why men were playing “with weird shaped balls, why are they kicking it like that and passing it backwards?”
But she warmed to it after seeing the camaraderie and how players brought their whole families to matches. They even put their three daughters – who are now adults – in rugby camps.
“It was a very family oriented sport and for us, when our kids were young it was something we looked forward to as a family at the weekends,” she said. “It was also something different to do.
“I grew up with American football but variety is the spice of life, right?”
Richard Moody is an Englishman from Surrey, just south of London where he played for Old Suttonians. He enjoyed the tournament but laments England not getting past the group stages.
“It’s been great,” Moody said. “All the form teams came through. Pity England didn’t, but there you go. I guess the team that has been on form for the last four years won it, so you can’t argue with that.”
Moody sees the All Blacks continuing their dominance. The only time Australia threatened was when they had a player advantage when Ben Smith was sin-binned for 10 minutes and the Wallabies scored 10 points to reduce the deficit to 21-17.
“A lot of New Zealand’s better players are older now so some of the youngsters will have to come through,” Moody said. “The question is whether they can keep it going for another four years? I think they probably can.”
He feels the All Blacks will be really tested in two years’ time when they take on the British Lions. As for England’s chances, like the other Northern Hemisphere teams, they have to revamp their rugby setups to be more competitive with the Southern Hemisphere teams otherwise the status quo remains.