Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Love the Lions

The magnificent Lions’ tour of Australia has just culminated in a spectacular and brutal deciding match in Sydney. It had it all. Suspense, passion, pride, desperation. And ultimately, a triumphant victor. Warren Gatland made history, crushing the Aussies 41-16 and sealing the Lions’ first test series victory in 16 years. For the uninitiated, we’re talking rugby. Not just rugby, Lions rugby.

Given my English roots you can appreciate where my allegiances lie on this matter. I take enormous pride in the spirit of Lions supporters on their four-yearly sojourn to the southern hemisphere. It’s an event that captures the rugby world, and rightly so. This year, Microsoft got in on the act too.

To help promote the spirit of the tour, Microsoft drilled a ‘hole in the world’ that let fans in Cardiff interact with their Australian counterparts in Melbourne in real time, using Skype. It was a brilliant idea. Who doesn’t love a casual yarn between random rugby fans at opposite ends of the globe?

It also got me thinking about how technology is playing a huge role in expanding rugby across the globe. We’re hearing about teams starting up in Afghanistan, China, Uzbekistan and Columbia. The internet is showcasing the sport to audiences the game could never reach before. And they love it. Over one million people have visited the International Rugby Board’s official website to learn the laws of the game. They’re watching videos, using the interactive facilities and taking tests on their understanding. Rugby’s popularity is sky-rocketing. It’s a great time to be a fan.

P.S. But watch these Wallabies waltz back now they’ve dropped Dingo Deans and brought in one of their own to coach them back to glory. Ewen McKenzie is the new man. An Aussie through and through. A winner through and through (and an ex-housemate of mine in Sydney). He’ll spice them up.