No matter what the sport, no matter what the level of play, rivalries are always important. Rivalries are what makes sport so entertaining, so exciting, and in the end, they are what makes sports sell tickets. Without rivalries, all games would seem meaningless because every game would be the same old story. Your team's rival is your rival and is a team never to be supported. Period.
So this entry comes from my homeland, New Zealand, where the biggest sporting event ever to reach our shores is in its final stages. The 2011 Rugby World Cup is about to end, and as always the All Blacks are touted big favourites to win the final. The reason? We are playing the mediocre France in the final...And we just kicked out Australia in the Semifinals. For anyone who may not be aware, Australia is our biggest rival, always has been, and always will be. We are neighbouring countries and therefore enjoy each other's land for holidays, but despise their teams, especially in the biggest matchups of the year between the All Blacks and the Wallabies, always for either the Webb Ellis Cup (World Cup) or Bledisloe Cup. Naturally, we share a mutual hatred for each other when we meet on the rugby field. Kiwis never want Aussie to win, and they never want us Kiwis to win. "Anyone but Aussie" is the favoured quote for when we pick our teams to support.
So the story pretty much goes, in New Zealand's fortress, Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not lost at for 17 years, the All Blacks took on the Wallabies, who have never lost to the All Blacks in a World Cup, in the semifinals. The All Blacks ended up winning 20-6, much to the dismay of many Aussies but especially their biased journalists.
So when has a rivalry gone too far? Would you ever support your rival team, even against a team you don't care about? Would a Texas fan support Oklahoma against someone even like Middle Tennessee St? Would I ever support Utah if they played East Carolina?
The answers should be: Never, No, Probably Not and NO! Chances are that Okla and Utah would win, but I'd still take on the underdog.
In a nutshell, Australian journalists have accused us of being bad sports, bad fans and only supporting our teams. Which is of course false. Sure, we booed their best players, mocked them when they screwed up and supported anyone they played in matches, but is that too far? We've never supported Australia, and they've never supported us, its a mutual agreement. We're gonna mock Quade Cooper because he's a Kiwi who defected. We're gonna diss their coach because he's a New Zealander who left after we kept our coach on the job. Rivalries are there for that sort of thing, we're gonna gloat and use bragging rights. It was the marquee game of the season.
If we were really all that bad of sportsmen, we wouldn't of gotten near sold out crowds to matches involving teams like Japan, Canada, Russia, USA or Namibia. If we only supported our teams, then only 7 of the 48 games would have been full, but that wasn't the case. Most media centres have applauded us, but the Aussies are a bit jealous that they're only playing for 3rd place.
So, have we really gone too far in the rivalry by packing a crowd full of 60,000 Kiwis all supporting Ireland play Australia? I think not.
So Australian Media...What the Ruck?