Sports editor Joel Butcher talks us through painful lapses in his sporting attention.Read More
Harper, Nick. “Instant Expert #2: The Rules of Rugby Made Simple.” Beginners Guide To Rugby Rules, Coca Cola Journey, 17 Sept. 2015, www.coca-cola.co.uk/stories/instant-expert-the-rules-of-rugby-made-simple. Rookwood, Dan. “A Brief History of Rugby.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Oct. 2003, www.theguardian.com/sport/2003/oct/06/rugbyworldcup2003.rugbyunion6.
A meeting with a president:The student elections at the University of St Andrews have now been over for weeks. The notifications from electoral pages have blessedly ceased, and the walk to the library is no longer fraught with the danger of small talk with strangers. The elections provide an opportunity for the student’s voice to be heard, allowing everyone to agree with each other that the housing situation is not optimum whilst quietly accepting there is nothing that will ever change. In the world of student sport there is a new face on the front page, a new man with a new plan, a new link between the students and the organisation that make student sport happen, the Athletic Union. After one of the closest run elections in the history of student politics, ‘The Tribe’ sat down with the elected President of the AU, Tom Abbott, to pick his brains on his plans for the future.Fact file:Name: Tom ‘The Bish’ AbbottHair: Curly- ‘Bishfro’Eyes: Blue/GreyFavourite place to eat in St Andrews: The BalakaFavourite drink: Tap water, chilledDegree: Chemistry, seemingly never-endingStrengths: Sports administration, small talk, being niceWeaknesses: AsthmaTom Abbott is refreshingly laid back for a man with such pressing responsibility. Today marks his last day in charge at the University of St Andrews Cricket Club, with the Annual AGM scheduled after a curry and a pint in the world famous Balaka restaurant. His year as President of the cricket club has been one marked by almost unprecedented success, both on the pitch and off it. Tom himself noted the challenge left to him and his committee after a string of high profile leavers played their last innings for St Andrews and graduated at the back-end of last year. Since then, under Mr Abbott’s stewardship, the club has gone from strength to strength. The first team were promoted into the English Premier league, a tour to south Africa was widely described as ‘a success’, and the inaugural Cricket club charity ball (hilariously called, no-ball) was held. Now Mr. Abbott turns his weary gaze to the AU and the AU presidency. His is now top dog, head honcho, the big cheese, el presidente, the archbishop, The Big Bish, I could go on- here is what happened when we sat down with the man himself to pick his brain.What are your fondest memories of sport at St Andrews?My
Robert Chadwick shares
‘Cricket is dead, long live cricket’This is an interesting quote and seems to be a bit of a paradox. For those of you who perhaps don’t understand it, have no fear, for this little article will explain to you the incredible inside story of how cricket reinvented itself to become a modern sport. Some of you might say that cricket is a boring sport and to those people I say - prepare to get your curiosity piqued and your bigoted sporting views challenged, for this is interesting... sort of.Like a phoenix from the ashes (get it?) modern cricket is pulling itself out from the gently smouldering remains of its former self. Test cricket is becoming increasingly poor and obscure, propped up by a life support machine paid for by the megabucks made by its reinvented self, as it waits for the opportune moment to pull the plug.We are starting our story in India, in the early 90s. The story doesn’t start here, but there is a strict word count on this piece and I have to cut words brutally. So, early 90s, India. A struggling economy gets hit with some strict IMF sanctions which demand that they open up the country to multinationals and give themselves over to the capitalist swine who secretly run the world. Previously strict laws on state run television are overturned and money pours into the country. Cricket, India’s national pastime, is one area which is targeted with the likes of Emperor Murdoch coming into milk the cash cow of one of the fastest growing markets in the world.Suddenly TV rights for Indian cricket are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and a new generation of shrewd Indian businessmen move into cricket administration and begin to auction off every aspect of the game to the highest bidder. From ‘official’ world cup chewing gum in 96’ to branded sixes in the IPL- there was a sale on in world cricket and everything had to go.Kunal Dasgupta, who himself bid $230 million for World Cup tv rights, succinctly justified the (not so) silly money being spent on Indian cricket thus, “Cricket is the only product in India which unites the whole country, north- south, east- west. It transcends class, religion, regional and language differences.”In this process, test cricket, the traditional form of the game, lost out to one day cricket. Tests are harder to watch, harder to understand and frankly, really boring. Conversely the instant gratification of one day cricket with the certainty of a result, the loud colours and exciting action made it more marketable to a rapidly expanding Indian middle class.With money lining their pockets and the weight of numbers behind them, a succession of Indian sports administrators took over the international governing body of the sport (the ICC), ousting out of touch white blokes in North West London so caught up in their own pomposity they failed to appreciate the seismic shift happening in world cricket.A revolution off the pitch was matched by a revolution on it. One day cricket succumbing to its logical conclusion and becoming T20 cricket, an even shorter, faster, and more exciting version of itself.This is when the big bucks really started to role in.The Indian Premier League, the brainchild of the mercurial Lalit Modi started in 2008 and became an annual event. The cricket became a spectacle with Bollywood stars sponsoring teams and the best cricketer’s in the world hauled in. Sponsorship money became rife as everything was monetised. Unsurprisingly this proved to be spectacularly popular, a daily evening drama for millions of Indians, a soap opera that a whole country could follow with relative ease.The success of the tournament has firmly and rightly established Indian as the centre of world cricket allowing them to dictate terms to the inventors of the sport about their own sport! Michael Atherton recently wrote a piece commenting on how the spiritual home of cricket was no longer Lords, it was the playing fields of Mumbai. This is true, by sheer weight of numbers and depth of passion cricket’s spiritual home is India, even if its administrative headquarters has now been moved to the tax free shores of the newly invented place on the map ‘Dubai’.In two decades the face of cricket has changed and the faces running it have also changed. The new version of cricket is here to stay and will enable the sport to compete against the ever expanding influence of American sports. It is vitally important for world cricket that cricket remains India’s most popular pastime and the best chance of ensuring that is the Indian Premier League.Cricket, with its values and practices associated for so long with empire, has become indigenised to, and in many ways redefined by, its place in Indian society.Interesting, right? Robert Chadwick
Austin Shields talks
Most, if not all sports, are ‘spectator sports’. But today we are not talking about the magic of watching a game of football or rugby. Here we are talking about sports that most of us can only watch and will never play.Take a few examples: F1, ice hockey and boxing. Of course people can play ice hockey – our own university team proves that – and yes you can go down to a gym and hit a punching bag or spar with a trainer, but these sports all hold a common abnormal quality and attraction: the majority of us will only ever watch them and can never know what it is like to be one of the players.You know you are probably never going to sit in an F1 car, let alone drive one. You also know you will not be able to get into a boxing ring without sharting yourself slightly at the prospect of being laid out. And you know you will not get on an ice rink with 11 other people without worrying that your neck will be slit when (not if) you fall over. At least that is what I worry about every time I ice skate…These sports are inaccessible for most of us, and yet we still love to watch them, regardless of our inability to participate.This area is very subjective, but even deciding where to draw the line between playable sports and pure spectator sports can be interesting. If you live in Canada ice hockey suddenly becomes very accessible, and hardly unusual – but here in the UK you do not casually arrange an ice hockey match with your mates. Equally most of us would not arrange a casual boxing match, despite the sport’s popularity in this part of the world (though my flatmate and I did actually organise an amateur boxing in order to resolve some long forgotten quarrel).It is easy to extend this discussion to the Olympic sports that were on recently. Take Olympic diving for example: a pretty decent swimmer might take a shot at diving off the highest board, but we craven landlubbers can probably admit that most of us would think twice at the top of the ladder. As a man who lives in constant fear of an accidental belly flop whenever jumping into a pool, I can courageously admit that I would never dive from height.So why do we watch these inaccessible sports? As a close follower of F1 and all things motorsport, I regularly get asked the same type of question: what is the appeal of watching something that you cannot relate to or experience?You might call this the paradox of inaccessible sport.In some sense, the inability to partake is a large part of the appeal. You are watching something different, something that you can only imagine experiencing. It could be compared to watching a master chef at work – you are amazed and wish you had their talent, but you know that the imitation pasta dish you regularly cook will never measure up. Equally you can drive around a go-kart track or set up an amateur boxing match with your flatmate, but you will most likely fall short of the thrill of the true sport.This all may sound a bit depressing, but it does not need to be. It is the unattainability that is so fascinating about spectator sports. Sure it is annoying we cannot fully engage, but these sportspeople are like the philosopher kings of our age – they enjoy access to knowledge that we mortals can only dream of acquiring. There is some comfort in sitting back and knowing you have left the sport to the professionals.It is unclear if this whole article has been an attempt to assuage my guilt at sitting on the couch all weekend watching F1 instead of going outside to play ‘actual’ sport. But either way it is good to appreciate the fact that there are some sports we will never play, and yet will continue to enjoy, for all our ignorance. Austin Shields