Champions Cup semi-finals can transform idle perceptions of rugby union | Robert Kitson


The irresistible Anglo-French affairs of Racing v Saracens and Exeter v Toulouse are the pick of this weekend’s sport and can puncture myth international rugby is the only show in town

Occasionally it is worth pausing for a moment and asking why people prefer to watch certain team sports compared to others. Football, for example, is easy to understand and truly global, its club game often more gripping and higher quality than its international counterpart. Cricket works well on television and has a range of formats to suit all tastes. Rugby – union and league – can be more compelling than either but is nowhere near as good at displaying the best of itself on a consistent basis.

Partly it is cultural preference. Unlike in, say, American football where the top quarter-backs are as prominent as Hollywood A-listers, rugby prefers to be seen as more about the team than the individual. All very admirable, until Joe Neutral switches on his television or laptop, surveys the team sheet and struggles to find a solitary name he recognises. England’s most high-profile union players right now, Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell, can still roam unhindered through central St Albans.

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Written by Robert Kitson
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