A question for sport

In an attempt to fully integrate myself in Cambridge society, I decided to tackle the only thing left for me to fully understand: British Sport.

Cambridge College column cricket Freshers Rugby Sport

So the Six Nations is happening. I think.

There is definitely something going on in the world of rugby. It is probably the Six Nations because I have heard that phrase being bandied about by men in shorts for the last two weeks. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a sportswoman.

But having become fed up with the disappointed nagging of my fellow Cantabs, I decided to sit down and figure out how your sports work. When in Rome, I figured. 

When hugs get a bit agressive

When hugs get a bit aggressive


Aah rugby. How you all love it. I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason is because it’s the one sport you all have left that you are relatively good at – alas, had anyone warned you that a side effect of relentless colonialism was becoming the worst at sports you invented, perhaps you would have thought twice. 

Rugby being the number one conversation piece these days, it seemed like a logical place to start. Deciding where to start was also the moment that I unknowingly left all logic behind. 

Large, imposing, but it's more impressive that they navigate all the rules to this bizarre game.

Large, imposing…but it’s more impressive that they navigate all the rules to this bizarre game.

From what I understand, Rugby works on a complex system of hugs. There are lots of men, all large and frightening, and they hug either a ball or each other in varyingly aggressive ways. No, I can’t really work out the rules behind these hugs, but everyone looks like they’re having lots of fun despite the faces of abject pain and despair. 


What is going on? Does anybody know what is going on? Do the players really know what’s going on? Wikipedia tells me it’s the world’s second most popular sport, and that just adds to the confusion. From what I understand, it is endless.

When I told people I was going to write a column on how I don’t understand British sport and mentioned cricket as one of the sports, I was basically told to clear out an entire day if I was planning to watch a match. Committing to a cricket game is a bit like deciding to watch the Director’s Cut of any Lord of The Rings movie: you will forget how to walk in the time you are sat there. 

The aftermath of a Cricket watching get together.

The aftermath of a Cricket watching get together.

“Lia, you still haven’t gotten round to actually trying to understand the rules of the bloody game – get to the point.” Well reader, it’s because I didn’t even come close to understanding. It’s deceptively simple: one team has to score runs against the other; there are bats and balls, etc. And then, just as I am lulled into a false sense of security by the not-particularly-excited tone of the commentators, words like “wicket” get thrown around like they’re anything else but garbled sounds. 

There is “bowling” which is categorically different from the kind done in an alley, and I am clutching my hair in despair. When they started having lunch and tea, that’s when I called it a day on that nonsense. 


The final sport I well-meaningly decided to take a gander at. This one takes place in a box, because of course it does. From what I can tell, this is tennis, but your opponent is the wall. Maybe the person next to you is also your opponent? They seem to be locked in a battle with the walls and with each other. 

Artists Impression: Lia being taught about inexplicable sport.

Artists Impression: Lia being taught about inexplicable sport.

In truth, I will probably never know. British sport is, predictably, as bemusing as your cuisine, your need to apologise to the world, and your polite conversations about the weather.

I am, as I have been since I moved here, confused and enchanted.