Winning World Cups, beating the All Blacks … I feel sorry for those of you who don’t like sport | Opinion

World Cup final agony for George Kruis and Tom Curry  - but rugby showed the power of sport to put a smile on the nation's face in recent weeks
World Cup final agony for George Kruis and Tom Curry - but rugby showed the power of sport to put a smile on the nation's face in recent weeks
Share this article

You know, I’ve always been a bit suspicious about people who don’t like sport - especially men. I would never have wanted to be in the trenches and my life relying on blokes who didn’t like standing on the terraces or creaming a shot through the covers for four. Not only that, but I feel sorry for those lost souls as well.

I mean, imagine not liking cricket! And not liking cricket on July 14 this year - the date England won the World Cup for the first time in what the media quickly christened ‘the Champagne Super Over’ (say what you like about tabloid journalists, but the headline writers can be very witty). Or imagine not liking cricket a few weeks later when Ben Stokes played one of the greatest innings in Test match history to win an Ashes Test at Headingley?
Or - and I’m shivering even typing this - imagine not liking football? Absolutely inconceivable, though I guess a few people in Southampton might have wished they’d never fallen in love with Pele’s beautiful game when Leicester paid them a visit …
And to bring us bang up to date, imagine not liking rugby union? 
Ok, that last one’s easy for me. I have never liked rugby, and even a World Cup final win against South Africa wouldn’t have converted me. I hated playing the sport at school back in the 80s and those long-harboured grievances will never leave me.
But three cheers for Eddie Jones and his men. They briefly gave the nation a bit of a feelgood factor - not as much as England’s progress to last summer’s World Cup football semi-finals, but a feelgood factor nonetheless - and God knows we need that.
Switch on the news, and it’s a seemingly endless diet of woe and misery. We must give praise, therefore, for the likes of Ben Stokes and Owen Farrell and the days when your arch rivals are humiliated 9-0 at home. 
More than ever these days, it’s only sport - with its heady cocktail of drama, skill and tribalism - which is capable of putting a smile on our faces.
And I repeat, if Stokes’ Headingley heroics or England’s World Cup rugby win over New Zealand didn’t make your day, I feel sorry for you. Truly, I do.

*

How incredible to think this small nation of ours - 50 odd million people (and admittedly some are very odd indeed) - is the only one to win the World Cup in the three major global team sports.

Football in 1966, rugby in 2003 and cricket in 2019. Unless Australia (five cricket World Cups and two rugby World Cups) emerge as a footballing superpower, that’s a record no other country will ever match.
It’s all too easy to whinge and moan about what we’re not good at, and social media has only made that situation worse. But just take time to bask in the glories of English sport for a moment, when you think of our country’s size in relation to many, many others …

*

Here is a fact I must share with you, and you’ll thank me for it.

YouTube recently revealed that the first music video from the 1980s to get a billion views is Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns ‘N’ Roses, leaving Take On Me by A-Ha video (943m views) in its slipstream.
This was brilliant news, for I love listening to 80s rock. Once upon a time, G ‘N’ R were the biggest band in the world. And the best. Such opinions have led ‘friends’ to question by musical tastes, even though I’m right. 
But it’s lovely to know, over three decades on from the song’s release, that I’m almost certainly not the only one who still turns the radio volume up high when Slash’s opening guitar riff kick in ...