Here is what jumps out to a couple of Americans visiting Sydney.
- Unlike in the US, the “El Camino” car format remains alive and well here. I (TP) consider that a good thing, JMP is unconvinced.
- We know that Mod Oz cuisine is great and all (our dinner at est. in 2006 was a top-3 dinner for us, probably rivaled only by Pacific’s Edge and the Kitchen), but we are traveling with a toddler so we can’t eat at a proper good restaurant. For our purposes, a pie with mash, peas, and gravy is the perfect food. Not that EP will eat it, but it’s at least portable.
- If we had a beachfront house in Manly or Watsons Bay we would never ever leave it.
- We do not know how to order a regular coffee. We know how to order something close to it (a “long black,” which is a double espresso with hot water, close to what we call an Americano in the US) but it’s unclear if drip coffee even exists here. (If you ask for a coffee you they will say “you want a latte?”)
- We know that rugby union is considered to be the superior sport by true fans, but I just think that rugby league is infinitely superior from the perspective of the spectator.
- It is amazing to think that as new as everything in the East Coast of the US is, everything in Sydney is at least 50 years younger.
The Surf at Watsons Bay
Matt July 3, 2011
Rugby league suffers from a few problems:
1) It’s newer. There’s always a bias against things as such. Kinda like Mormonism.
2) It’s perceived as less manly. I think that counts for a lot — it’s just not as rough. Combined with #1, it’s like if a new touch football league started. No matter how much more fun it was to watch from the perspective of someone who had never seen regular football before, anyone who had would be skeptical.
3) It’s perceived as a rules change. Think about the DH in baseball. Objectively, it probably makes the game more fun to watch for the vast majority of fans. But tons and tons of people still hate it. Rugby league is the DH, but times 1000.
TP July 3, 2011
Those are all great points (and I actually had no idea about any of them, so it makes sense).
I also get the sense–although I can’t confirm this–that rugby league is considered a working class game whereas rugby union is a proper middle- or upper-class game. This might matter for general opinions of the sport, at least in Australia. Watching the National Rugby League on Fox Sports here you get the sense that the fan base is closer to NASCAR than PGA.
I have to say, though, that it amazes me that rugby league is actually less rough than rugby union. Watching 250 pound Tongans slam into each other at full speed is frightening.
Matt July 3, 2011
The class issue is interesting; I can totally see how that operates.
The roughness issue, from what I gather, is hotly contested — my personal opinion is that union is much more brutal on the players over the course of a game; however, many people — especially those who like league — differ. I think you do get a lot more open-field huge hits in league, but of course, that’s because the ball is in the open field under general play so much more often. Conversely, the accumulated brutality of ruck after ruck in union is absent.
(Mind you, my perspective is probably only slightly better than someone who has never seen the game before in their life — 4 years of American college rugby union doesn’t exactly make one an expert).
One other thing to remember is that globally, way more people play union. That means that among people who have experience with the game, most of them have experience with union, which could easily create a chattering class bias purely out of nostalgia.
TP July 3, 2011
This was a very illuminating article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_rugby_league_and_rugby_union. I see the points of contention about the roughness…I think that the near constant rucking in union must be rougher on average than the massive but periodic collisions in league. But you can see how the naive spectator wouldn’t care so much about such a fine point both in terms of roughness and enjoyability. I’m going to try to find a way to get to a Canberra Raiders game while I’m here.
I wonder what which one is generally considered to be more tiring? League has regular breaks in the action, but more running.
By the way, I’m still a total wuss and would never play either because I’d get my clock cleaned.