Strictly Come Dancing VS Rugby Wolrd Cup


Strictly Come Dancing is the most valuable TV programme on TV. On Saturday Night Jay and his partner Aliona Vilani showed us why.  They did Jive based on one of the most notable scenes from one of the most notable movies of the 1990’s.

It brought is home to me why the rugby world cup, really isn’t as good as this juggernaut of Saturday night TV. Just to be clear, I love rugby. In my youth I had a run out for bath and Worcester Rugby clubs, I played first team Rugby at university and to this day I still play touch rugby. My family left South Africa when we were young and watching the 1995 South Africa – New Zealand rugby world cup final in the UK was one of the seminal moments of my childhood, but even I can see how in many ways Strictly is better entertainment.

Rugby, less so than football, has very little interpersonal drama. It is broadly assume that each team is like a solid wall. there are no cracks the players are just in it to “get the job done”.  ‘get the job done’ was the England slogan before they crashed out of the tournament and I think reflects the supper manly and pragmatic self image that marketing people think appeals to everyone who plays rugby.

Both rugby and ball room dancing are subcultures. Unless you happen to be regularly involved in one of them, they can sometimes seem very odd. There are certain traditions and tastes the set them apart from the rest of culture. For instance the Rugby world cup has developed its own musical taste and conventions that need to be respected. When those conventions are infringed the natives of that culture revolt.  The best example of this being the ‘Petition to remove Paloma Faith from the Rugby World Cup’ which at the time of writing has 10,250 signatories.

A quick skim of youtube reveals that World in Union is a bloody awful and saccharin song, and every 4 years it is put upon a musical alter and torchered until it warbles to death. The sole exception to this being my favourite rugby world cup the 1995 South Africa World cup where is was nail by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. That being said I can fully understand why people didn’t want this cherish cultural artefact that’s melody is “Thaxted” — the stately theme from the middle section of “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity”, a movement from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”, and was originally adapted for its use in the English/Anglican patriotic hymn, “I Vow to Thee My Country”. Ὲ seen shoved through the Commercial-X-Facture-Style-Homogenizing-Shit machine.

If the musical traditions of the Rugby world are strange they are nothing when compared to the clothing traditions on the Ball room dancing scene. It would be easy to mistake their taste in clothing as ‘fashion’ but they are not. Fashion by its very nature is transient. The clothing taste of ballroom dancers are relatively stable. this makes them traditions and lets face it they are pretty weird, be it glittery low-V shirts for the men or dresses that evoke colourful pubic hair extensions for women.

Strange dress sense

Strange dress sense

So why do i think one is better entertainment than the other? Rugby culture does have room for patriotism, by watching Rugby you can get to feel like part of a tribe. Strictly on the other hand allows you to back a horse but next year you will have to find a new gladiator to back, but each year you have to find your team.

Where strictly starts to pull ahead is that both men and women have roles. So in addition to the central action the dancing competition there is also the guessing game of trying to work out who is having an affair with who. Not only that, there is a very odd section that requires the dancers to run up a flight of steps allowing the viewers to speculate which female dances have real as opposed to fake boobs. Which I assume is supposed to inform how you feel about the dancers.

Finally strictly can and does make reference to wider culture. Normally the reference are ‘meh’, and pass me by completely, and then sometimes as with Jay and Aliona Vilani dance on Saturday the stand on the shoulders of giants and do something great.

They did a dance that evoked Pulp Fiction, a film which itself referenced Saturday Night Fever and was filled to the brim with absolutely loads of fantastic music.

Rugby by comparison is a closed shop. Once you are in, you can enjoy drama, but it is more like a night club with a bouncer on the door. Strictly on the other hand is open and exposes me to parts of our culture I would otherwise miss. To be honest, there wasn’t  a large void in my life labeled “The Wanted” before Jay showed me he could do something cool with that scene from Pulp Fiction, But I have now listened to his music and I don’t like it, but the point is now I don’t like it because i have heard it, where as before I didn’t like it because I assumed I would hate it.


24 years of watching rugby has never changed how I feel about anyone, However I would say every year My wife watches Strictly and I do something on the laptop promising myself that I ‘wont waist my life and get sucked in this year’. Every year one of the couples does something and i think, ‘yeah that is good and i didn’t expect it from them’, and then I have to start taking an interest. Therefore I, a rugby player can reluctantly accept that Strictly Come Dancing is better than the rugby world cup because it can bring any group of people together, where as the rugby world cup is only ever going to be of interest to people who like rugby.