6 Nations for n00bs

A social guide to appearing knowledgeable about the Six Nations. For those who know nothing about rugby, but don’t want to look like an alcoholic who’s only joining in for the beers.

Step 1: Understanding the conversation

There have already been weeks of TV shows and podcasts building up to the start of the tournament. But you haven’t watched or listened to them because you have a life, or you have been watching Bridgerton, but probably not both. And yes, it may well be that the Duke of Hastings would be excellent out wide, but it will never be acceptable say this. Here is what people will be parrottng from the pods, so you can copy and paste one of these in to the WhatsApp group to seem clued in.

  1. It’s the biggest and greatest rugby competition on Earth! (Even though it’s not the World Cup, 5 of the top 10 ranked teams don’t play in it and only one of its teams has ever won the World Cup, and that was 18 years ago).
  2. Bonus points in the Six Nations? It’s an affront! Beating Scotland is the only bonus you need!
  3. Should Italy still be involved? They always lose! Let’s replace them with Georgia.
  4. Which France are going to turn up?

Ignoring the part in brackets, this is true every year. If you didn’t know that the Six Nations happens every year, sorry…

Step 2: Where to watch the game

Obviously in the pub. But rugby isn’t football, apart from in the most technical sense, so most pubs won’t show it (I recall The Packhorse and Talbot in Chiswick switching off an England game after 15 minutes for a QPR match. I know it was 7 years ago, but such disgrace is not easily forgotten). Finding a pub will require some googling, but an Irish bar is a good place to check. Special shout out to Irish Pub in the Fleetenkieker in Hamburg.

Turn up half an hour early so you can be on your second Guinness for kick off. It will make the match more enjoyable. Even better, if the first game is Italy, arrive during that and take your pick of the tables. They will be empty.

Step 3: What to do during the game

Now, once the game starts you are going to need to seem engaged, and not like you are just there for the beers. If you followed my earlier advice and went to Fleetenkieker, you can keep yourself entertained by watching the remnants of last night’s stag do trying to revive Big Man.

To look enthusiastic about the match however, take a look at the screen every 5 minutes or so. The current situation is likely to fall in to one of the 6 following scenarios. Identify it, and this list will tell you exactly what to say.

  1. Your team has the ball in hand. Shout “Quick ball! Quick ball!”.
  2. The other team has the ball in hand. Shout “Big D!”. A rare acceptable moment to do this.
  3. Your man has been tackled. Shout “Off his feet ref!”.
  4. Their man has been tackled. Shout “Jackal!! Jackal!!”. I have no idea what this means, but I promise you this is the correct thing to do. I will endeavour to find out why.
  5. There is a scrum. Grunt and go back to staring at your pint.
  6. The ball is in the air. Quietly moan about the excessive kicking in the modern game. Blame the rule changes.

Lockdown provides an excellent chance to practice these core skills.

Step 4: Is it over yet?

If the game is finished, one option is to write a mental blog post about how it went. A better option is to stay in the pub and hope there’s a thriller going on in Bundesliga 2.

If you have sat through 4 weekends of this already then you are almost out of the woods. All 3 final games will be played on Super Saturday. You can say whatever you like on this day. Nobody remembers what happened on Super Saturday. I usually google the results on the way to work on Monday morning.

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