The British media are as obsessed with trivia as their US counterparts

The rugby World Cup is currently underway in England and, fresh from the ‘scandal’ where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticized for only standing but not also singing the words of the national anthem, he was castigated for missing England’s opening game against Fiji, citing unspecified “pre-existing commitments”. The media sneered as to what could possibly be more important than cheering your team in a World Cup rugby match.

We learned later why he missed the game, thanks to a Facebook post by Daisy Barber.

Jeremy Corbyn was criticised yesterday for ‘snubbing’ the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, citing prior commitments. As Boris Jonhson put it “This is turning into a national joke…Come on Jezza: Scrum down for England.”

His prior commitment, it appears, was a running weekly appointment to meet with his constituents. Yesterday he sat down for a private meeting with my sister in law to talk about her housing situation.

Despite a waiting room full of people outside, and having recently been elected Leader of the Opposition, he nevertheless took his time to listen to and her story and fully understand the issues.

He treated her with compassion and dignity throughout, and promised to personally look into the case. On top of that, he insisted she return later so he could meet her kids, and then took the time to explain to my nieces the exact process required to make jam (there are things called pectins which are apparently very important).

By this time it gone 5pm on a Friday, when he should otherwise have been on route to the RWC.
That’s scrumming down for England in my opinion!

Keeping an appointment to meet with constituents in need rather than fobbing them off to attend a rugby game? This man clearly has the wrong priorities to be a national leader.

Given the treatment Corbyn has been subjected to in the media so far, satirical columnist Mark Steel predicts what we are likely to read about in the coming days.

As he’s been leader for five days now, the press are calming down a bit. By tomorrow headlines will only say things like, “Cor-Bin Laden will force pets to be Muslim”, followed by an interview with 89-year-old Vera, who says: “It’s not fair because my hamster’s scared of burqas. That’s the last time I’ll vote Labour.”

The Telegraph will be even more measured, reporting: “Corbyn plans to introduce women-only gravity. Men will be left to float through space, making it harder to arrive on time for work, costing Britain £40bn.”

This could go alongside the genuine report in The Times on Monday, that Jeremy Corbyn’s neighbours “often see him riding a Chairman Mao-style bicycle”. A less thorough reporter might only mention that he rides a bicycle. Luckily this one knew the country where lots of bicycles are ridden is China, which was once ruled by Chairman Mao, which means Corbyn is planning to force us all to work in rice fields and eat dogs.

Steel’s column is a riot, revealing the absurd lengths the media are going to in their attempts to discredit Corbyn.

The really big World Cup news is that Japan, that hasn’t won a World Cup game since 1991, beat two-time world champions South Africa 34-32 in their opening game. Although trailing 32-29 in the final minutes, they declined to take a penalty kick with 90 seconds left that would have enabled them to just tie the score. They gambled on scoring a try to win the game and pulled it off at the very end.

I also like the fact that the Japanese team’s nickname is the Cherry Blossoms, a surprising choice for a team playing such a brutal game. I cannot imagine an American football team choosing such a quaint name.


  1. Callinectes says

    Rubgy is a very different culture from what I’ve observed. The England team logo is a rose and the New Zealand team logo is a fern. The sport is not known for the same ridiculous excesses as soccer, both in terms of clubs, players and fans. Rugby players are much less prone to injury than American football players, because they wear substantially less protection and thus correct play does not include moves calculated to ruin the human form.

    I’m not a fan of any field sport, but I find it much easier to get on board with Rugby. Unless, of course, I had pre-existing commitments.

  2. Holms says

    Meanwhile, one of Australia’s state rugby teams is named after the rabbit, which is not even native and is an ecological disaster second only to the cane toad.

  3. fentex says

    Local bookies had that game 500/1 in South Africa’s favour.

    If only I’d put a few hundred on Japan! But then there’s a reason it was 500/1 -- I too mentioned on Saturday that the Boks would win it easily.

    Now I’m worried about Ireland. They’ve never beaten the All Blacks, they might meet them in a semi-final, and the last time they competed Ireland was the better team for 60 minutes (just not 83 minutes).

    I personally think the world cup is a bit of a crap shoot. All the best teams are not much separated, everyone lifts their games, defences are particularly vigilant and officials inject a lot of variation (especially given every world cup they’re told to concentrate on something specific -- this time it’s talking back, not to be suffered) and even if you’ve got an enviable record like the All Blacks you still lose games and you only need to lose one of the knock out games.

  4. says

    “Football [soccer] is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians, and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen”

    Rugby is taking sports injury seriously, doing surveys to find out what injuries occur, and how often, and is taking steps to prevent injuries occurring. See, for instance,

    As for Corbyn, he was right to put his constituency duties ahead of a rugby match. A mnb0 says, that’s what we have royalty for.

  5. says

    oh crap, because of the RWC I’ve snubbed loads of things since the weekend.

    Walthamstow’s free festival which must mean I hate guitar bands that were a bit famous in the 80’s, English National Ballets production of swan lake which must mean I hate English people and swans (although the buggers will brake your arm given half the chance, and swans are dangerous too).

    Callinectes says “Rugby players are much less prone to injury than American football players,”

    As a Welsh rugby fan there is a massive irony in that statement in regards to this RWC 🙁

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