Beer and Rugby

Friday night after eating entirely too much Italian food at Maggiano’s Little Italy in King of Prussia (nothing little about the place), we looped by the Beer Yard in Wayne to cop a case of Steinlager–a brew from New Zealand. We had plans to convene at a buddy’s abode on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 to watch the World Rugby Finals…France versus New Zealand All Blacks. Steinlager is the corporate sponsor of the All Blacks and we wanted to get into the spirit of the game.  We had high hopes for both the beer and the game.

Of course, we rooted for the All Blacks. Here is what the French coach said about his own players who went out and partied too much after eeking out a win over Wales:

“I told them what I thought of them,” he said. “That they’re a bunch of undisciplined, spoiled brats, disobedient, sometimes selfish, always complaining, always whining, and they’ve been (frustrating me) for four years.”

In other words, typical Frenchmen.

France didn’t start to play hard until the second half and New Zealand won the game while not playing particularly well. I played rugby for six seasons and went literally out with a bang my last game I played. I knocked three people out, and put one of them–a player on my own team–in the hospital overnight. Me…I had to get carted off to the hospital in an ambulance where I was diagnosed with a double concussion and had to get fifteen stitches above  my right eye. I can only really see out of my right eye so I figured I was tempting fate to play more. Thus, I sadly hung up my Adidas Steel Cleats and called it a career. It was very disappointing. So, I have little sympathy for the French not playing hard for a half. Such nonchalance is inexcusable.

Beer was always a big part of the post-game convocations. Part medicinal–it is hard to put into mere words how bad the body aches after 80 minutes on the pitch–and part fellowship. The ethos of rugby on the field is play hard, play fair, but leave it on the field. After the game, enjoy hanging out with the other team. Win or lose, it is a great time.

The game was so-so and so was the Steinlager. It is basically a light lager that has little flavor. Kind of like 7-Up. It is not offensive or anything but it is bland and nothing to write home about. We were all trying to convince ourselves that it was OK until my wife–acting as the little boy who observed that the “King has no clothes”–forced us to come to terms that we were drinking an average beer. That was also disappointing. Is there not a way to make the brew more adventuresome and daring? Why make something so so-so? Purely average.

We brought some Dogfish to the table to give us some taste and flavor. Although American rugby has a long way to go before it is world-class, good to know that our beers are among the world’s best.

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