Rugby..Its just a game… NOT!
Wrong! Its more than just a game in these parts, it’s a religion, its something that bonds a nation, a sport that, if you are any good, could catapult you into the major leagues of Australia or New Zealand or even just make you fit and healthy to enjoy a longer life.
With all that in mind the Tongan national rugby team recently returned from its overseas tour. The team was given a heroes welcome at the airport, a civic reception in parliament and (as quoted in the paper) a government sponsorship of $250,000 and a street parade (almost) on par with the Nottinghill Gate Carnival.
The sense of national pride the Kingdom radiating that day was a joy to behold. Whole families had their faces painted red (the colour of the national flag) and donned red clothing whilst gyrating to the deafening sound of music blaring from floats, honking car horns and marching bands.
Health and safety rules and work cover procedures were given the day off as kids sat on top of cars and visiting Australian youth rugby teams jockeyed for the best photo opportunity while standing on top of tabletop trucks hanging on to each others mobile phone cords.
Tonga is due to play Scotland at the end of October. Am I worried? Well actually I am. You see Tonga, population just over 100,000 and very limited training facilities, beat Scotland last year, who were at home in Edinburgh. Much as it pains me I am trying to lose my Scottish accent before the kick off in fear of further (good humour) retribution and have been telling everyone I am from a small country somewhere in Europe that you won’t have heard of.