David Murrin –
Every empire has had a game that personifies its values and represents its national culture. Rugby was the game of the British empire, from which it has since spread to many nations outside the commonwealth. Indeed, the Japanese world cup has been the most enormous success in strengthening the ties between the people of Japan and its western allies, at a time when the participants are being forced to grow ever closer in their alliance to contain Chinese expansionary ambitions.
To those of you not familiar with rugby, it is a game of great skill brutality and yet complexity and its players have to be exceptionally tough and smart. It comprises a 15 man team game with eight men on the reserve bench, all of which are rotated through the 80-minute game to maximise team impact and to change the tactical focus as the game develops. Above all things it is the ultimate team game and the collective belief and cohesion of the team are critical to winning. Despite the physicality of the game, its coaches and players expound the most impressive sporting ethos and respect for each other, and as such it should be considered the gold standard for sporting values and leadership.
From England’s sports fields, were shaped the greatest leaders in the mature British empire. Hence its significance as a national game to Britain is perhaps greater than recognised by modern commentators. Thus a potential English victory at the world cup has much greater significance than most people appreciate for the geopolitical status of Britain.