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March 24, 2008 | by  | in News |
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The Art of Rugby

There are all sorts of crazy theories and ideas about why countries go to war with each other, and or don’t go to war with each other. Democratic peace theory, Golden Arches Theory, Clauswitzian ideas, Heglian ideas, machtpolitik, Economic theories, Evolutionary and rationalist Theories. Theories ad naseum. However none of these really explain the motivations for war, or the decrease of war between countries in a contemporary fashion. I have outlined a theory I have been working on for the past three hours or so…

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected”

In the 6th century Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War: The word rugby could easily be transposed into the text of The Art of War in place of war. Rugby is after all a pitched battle with certain rules of engagement. You play on your opponent’s weakness, exploit the flanks. The rules of rugby are like the rules of engagement or the Geneva Convention. Rugby is comparatively non violent institutionalised warfare. It harks back to medieval times where there was an understanding that specific units would be placed in certain positions during a battle, eg: Jonah Lomu being on the wing, similar to the placement of cavalry units. The All Blacks even do a haka, a challenge of war, before a match.

Rugby Playing Peace Theory:
That all States that have played Rugby for at least 25 years, will not go to war with each other.
That all States that have competed in a Rugby World Cup will not go to war with each other.

Definitions:
“Rugby playing countries”: A country that has official recognition from the International Rugby Board as having an International Rugby team (currently 115 unions).
“25 years”: The period of time from the playing of an international team’s first test match to when it can actually be called a ‘Rugby playing country’.
“War”: armed hostilities between esp. nations; conflict OED “Rugby World Cup”: An event organised by the International Rugby Board where men’s Rugby teams compete against each other at four year intervals.

Rules that prove the exceptions
Germany started playing Rugby in 1900, and as most of us know, that didn’t stop them from going to war. However there is another constant that needs to be taken into account in the RPPT and that is Suckiness.

Definition: “Suckiness”: The act of not being particularly skilled at something. Eg: Whilst playing The All Blacks, Portugal displayed a certain degree of suckiness.

Countries that do not had a rugby team that have been invaded by a team with one: Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Panama, Libya, Nicaragua, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Palestine, Lebanon

Countries that do have rugby teams but have not been invaded by rugby playing country (when global opinion is against them): Cambodia, Iran, Fiji and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is an interesting case because it was one of the original Rugby playing nations and featured in the 1987 and 1991, and fell out of favour with many other rugby playing nations at this time.

Rugby is violent enough to appeal to those who crave war. Often blood is spilled and bones are broken on the rugby pitch. Compared to Soccer it is much more violent. Rugby has less rules than American Football, and is more widely played than Ice Hockey (although an argument could be made for Ice Hockey Peace Theory based on the fact that the USA, Canada, or the USSR/Russian Federation have never engaged in direct warfare with each other). Cricket isn’t exciting at all; boxing isn’t a team sport. The Olympic Games are an extension of politics that supersedes even war itself.

The best explanation for RPPT is that playing rugby allows a conduit for States to channel their destructive energy. It keeps the masses happy, and diverts attention from global issues. Most of the rugby playing world came to a standstill during the last World Cup held in France, and NZ won’t schedule an election on the same day as a test match.

The twenty five year gap is important in RPPT. It allows time for national teams to develop and gain experience, and it also allows time for the country to be recognised as a rugby-playing State.

Instead of pouring money into international arms markets governments are spending ridiculous amounts on rugby. Last year the NZ government pledged $20 million dollars to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, at current exchange rates that is four M1 Abrams Battle Tanks. The English Rugby Union generated “Pound Sterling” £84.8 million in 2005 that’s roughly 291,060 AK 47’s in Classic Wood style.

There is an interesting correlation of internecine civil wars within rugby playing countries in the IRB’s top two tiers. England: 1642-1651 USA, 1861-1865, Fiji 1990-2000’s, France 1789, New Zealand 1870’s, Ireland 1922 -23, South Africa (a virtual civil war under apartheid), Japan 1863-1868. Rwanda 1990 – 1993. Perhaps these States whose identities have been forged in blood look towards peaceful means to coagulate nationalism and prosperity.

The current Olympic champion of Rugby is the one of the most aggressive states (USA has held the title of Olympic Rugby Champion since 1924). Maybe we should lobby for the reinstatement of Rugby as an Olympic sport for London 2012, so NZ can rip the title from USA’s grasp and develop our own global hegemony.

RPPT is the only peace theory that takes into account humanity’s need for bloodshed and violence. It also takes into account economic factors and is based on empirical measures. Rugby however is not a panacea; we should be researching other ways in which we can prevent war, and promote peace.

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The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

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