The opportunities for change in Brazil with Rio 2016

It’s 2016 and I’m praying for Rio. The blessing of being rewarded with an Olympics has tended to be a rather hefty cross for many of the recipients in recent and distant recollections. From the financial haul of the 76 Games for the citizens of Montreal to the even bigger economic nightmare for Athens in ’04 being awarded the rights to stage the greatest sporting fete on Earth can leave one to wonder about “the genuine worth” and legacy of it all. After all, when your two weeks of pomp and glorie are up what remains may be nothing short of a meaningless “white elephant” if not ceased upon with well-constructed initiative.

Of course some things are beyond ones control. How many a Canadian would have wished that our obstinate efforts to persist in sporting ties with apartheid South Africa would not have contributed to the boycotting of their moment in the opulent Olympic spotlight by 20 plus understandably enraged African states.  Or the lopsided medal tallies as the Cold War giants took time to snub each other’s Games in the early 1980s. Or in what I call the ‘Magical Games’ in 92 in Barcelona (my favourite Games of all) that Spanish feel good vibe shining through as it heralded in a new era well past the Dark dictatorial days of Franco and fascism.

As ‘the Wall’ fell and the tyranny with it, a rarely seen solidified Spain at the dawn of a new period as a progressive member of the freshly formed European Union symbolised a promising future for what had been, like Greece, a certainly backwards form of existence. Unlike the aspirational Europeans whose Greek gifting fittingly returned the Games to its rightful birthplace while rejoicing the further  Eastward ‘push’ an expansion of the EU juggernaut against that ever nervy Russian tide the USA seemed almost bamboozled about their turn to have another crack at staging the event in 96.

Perhaps with the intent of boosting the regions standing at a time of financial incertitude the Atlanta Affair was as lacklustre and lamentable as they come. It was truly a forgettable festival with flair and frivolity in complete and utter absentia. What was America thinking honestly? How could the world’s greatest and sole Superpower produce such an inferior passionless product after the magnanimous delights of LA (even if the Russians were nowhere to be seen)?

Being a bit of Anglophile, the UK staging was always going to capture a significant part of my heart (though not quite as much as the Spanish one surprisingly). Every ceremony was truly a polished and well scripted scene with the Best of Britain emphatically shining through winning the hearts and minds of all present. Who could ever forget seeing the Queen parachuting her way down into the memorable ambience which lay before us like a well laid out buffet smorgasbord. It seemed that every national I stumbled upon were stashing pennies away to go contiki in London. After the tumultuous global financial crash, the meritocracy of such a sublime staging is a credit to the will and commitment displayed by the British.

Even Games which may have initially left me dubiously doubting seemed to escape the severest of my scorn. Rudimental as it was, the Soviet Games nonetheless would be like one of those papers you receive which you are unsure whether to give a C or a slightly more generous C+. Either way, while not spectacular it was nonetheless not atrociously awful upon fleeting reflections.

However, what perhaps gave me at least the greatest shock was electing to host the Games in China. While this may stun some shocked and eyebrow tilted Millennials and Echo boomers one needs to see this from my ageing Generation X ocular perspective. While knowledge of China’s economic valour, power and prestige is as recognised a fact as the Earth orbiting the Sun back in my infancy such an idea was almost “inconceivable”.

If you had told me about the Reunification of Germany, the end of the USSR, bye bye Yugoslavia, the economic tumbling of Japan and the rise of the BRICS I would have probably have thought that you were completely potty. China giving money to Americans what have you been puffing on? And yet, for the first real moment in Olympic history the Games were staged outside of the traditional economic bastions of Europe, North America and Japan.

This shake up was a refreshing change from the Olympic hegemon nations that sought to govern the Games. Yes, I hear you chirp let’s not forget those Aussies but in all honesty and if truth be told few would have doubted the Lucky Country’s ability to stage such a fittingly fabulous and flamboyant festivity. That Land Downunder an affluent stable and economically prosperous ‘European’ cocktail nation was always a sound bet for the International Olympic Committee to gift the games.

On the flipside, to see the side of another society rarely seen in a world which still continues to be dominated by European voices and perspectives was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air and I long for the day when another rising state can replicate the success which was the China side to the story. How wonderful would it be if we could one day witness the jubilation of an event hosted by the Indians, Mexicans, Turks or an African state?

Of course, the 08 Chinese Games did not come without its fair share of scepticism and criticism. Indeed, the world, especially those Old World powers had a field day of Sino bashing taking a daily swipe at the emerging giant Pandas project. As in the case of the Soviet Games, fears abounded over China’s reliability and repute to stage such a ceremony. From human rights concerns to pollution to the soundness and certifiability of food and hygiene standards China largely excelled at laying a number of fears to rest. The beauty of the Games was that it afforded China to self-evaluate and be evaluated by others.

Naturally, external critiques can be unflattering and indeed undesirable but it is often through the lenses of others that we are able to see the flaws which we are unable to see through our own clouded visions. These observations, as critical or even cynical, as they may have been not only facilitated China’s ambitions to host a healthy Games but also to implement proactive steps for the betterment of its own citizens post Games. To pull off a memorable occasion that mimics the Asian Giants powerhouse performance maybe asking for a stretch of the imagination.

The Brazilians, in spite of their commendable growth, should not set itself out to be a China, UK or USA. Instead it should be a fusion of the formidable forays of the events staged by the lesser cash blessed hosts. Like Australia, Brazil is perceived to be the sports utopia of South America and in past and recent times have triumphantly been a bastion for pursuits of all shapes and forms. Beyond the obsessive craze which football holds over the Brazilian psyche, this is a nation which excels in other international leisures and holds a reputable reputation in activities ranging from basketball, volleyball, motor racing, martial arts to name but a few of this diverse nations passionate participation in a plethora of pleasurable practices.

Furthermore, Brazil have proven capable hosts before in their budding sporting history. At the closure of the recent World Cup, it was noted that the perception towards Brazilian conduct during the tournament was given a surging boost by an international jury even after the heartbroken hosts were humiliatingly sent packing. Feverish football fanatics had nothing but largely positive praise to heap upon their hospitable hosts.

While positive proactivism is a priority in propelling the potential of the Brazil and it’s legacy through this Golden Opportunity, a presentable polished Games will leave Brazil with a great to gain, foreign critic chipping at the performance aside.

As a marketable ‘cultural badge of identifiable recognisability’ Brazil has a fantastic generic image with worldwide street appeal. In contrast to many of its other South American neighbours, the national make up tends to carry a romantic charge and is not as politically stained as some of its other neighbours. This window of opportunity offers the rising nation was a glorious additional chance to further boost its progressive and evolving image and maybe even clear up a few unwarranted or undesirables myths along the way.

Perhaps above all else, Brazil needs to market this as a “South American” games project which would be a shrewd and smart witted way to win the hearts and minds of its Latin American neighbours continental compadres. A future of a strong, solidified and soaring South America equals a strong a sumptuous scenario for Brazil’s own gregariously gargantuan growth.

We have sadly all seen how the situation of an ascending Latin American economy have been hampered by that one Sick Man of The South trying to keep their head above the solvency water mark. South America is counting on strong regional giants and Brazil represents such a great hope which will bring an uplifting contagion of prosperity and hope to the geopolitical region and its future fruition.

Emblematically, maybe the reason why I have my fingers so firmly crossed for the Brazilians is because I want to see another Barcelona this 2016. In my eyes at least, Brazil is a metaphor for the Spanish Games which were traditionally and historically hosted by its more stable and solvent Northern European neighbours. A loud mouthed Vermont roommate shakes his head at me. “Really, I think it’s gonna be a massacre. I just hope we (the USA) cleans up on the medal table”. I yearn to tell him that Atlanta was as forgettable a farce as they come but I elect to place my charm offensive diplomacy of silence first.

Brazil, its people and its neighbours are nervous and rightfully they should be. This is a momentous occasion for all of them an unprecedented event never staged on the continent before. Not even affluent nations such as my sport living and breathing New Zealand has had the audacious cojones to stage this beast of beast events. Is Brazil a fool? Maybe but dear God how I’m a sucker for a brave courageous Brazil nut. Indeed, Brazil has a point to prove and damn it I hope they do just that. Nor should it shun away from the spotlight where it finds itself standing precariously under.

Opinions will fly from flapping Northern lips, comparisons will be made and haters are just gonna hate. That will happen as it always has happened throughout history. The true value of the Olympic Mission for the Brazilians is that it will be a great time of learning and development for the organisers. Brazil will undeniably benefit from taking the constructive criticism and producing realistic results. Yes, it would be wonderful to see the total collapse of all favela dwelling peoples as these people become buoyantly bountiful bourgeoisie overnight but such expectations are just farfetched.

The Games can be an initiator to implementing the baby steps required to ameliorate the Brazilian social condition over a measurable passage of time. In the meantime, it grants the government with an ideal position to tackle the crime matter which has often hindered the social stigma attached to Brazilian society. A focus on cleaning up, law and order wise, and to heavily investing in policing is vital towards leaving a good time enduring legacy which is meaningful to the people of Brazil.

Previous Games, in that sense, while initially critiqued, have worked sociocultural and environmental wonders for the recipients of the concourse. To give you one instance I turn to a city which I know well and truly, my home town of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. In ’74 we were awarded the Commonwealth Games and the way in which the event radically transformed the city for the better was remarkable. Admittedly this was not an Olympics but these Games still needed to cater for many many nationals.

Of course, the staging of the Games, ceremonial speaking may not have held the pomp and trimmings of other more affluent former Imperial centres. Nevertheless, sometimes the most memorable occasions come in forms we least expect. While the goliaths of England, Australia and Canada tend to hog the game limelight by far my most unforgettable Commonwealth Games was the one recently hosted in Glasgow.

Scotland, that often undervalued little brother that made Great Britain great blew me away with its vibrant and witty allure and had my Scottish ancestry fizzing with delight. It came at a time when Scotland was very much in the headlines and had many convinced that this once little cap of the English gentleman of the South could seriously carry its own pride identity without the need of those pompous Poms. Who would be next to follow? The Welsh, Northern Irish, Cornwall, Wiltshire? Indeed sport has a funny way to twist the heartstrings.

As poor little old New Zealand sought to play medal wars with its other White Settler Siblings the tiny island state of Kiribati captured even the most parochial patriotic of Kiwi patriots when the tiny Pacific island celebrated a first Commonwealth Games medal after David Katoatau won gold in weightlifting. We had to settle for silver, but the moment was pure gold!

No you do not need to be a big gun like those apologetic Canadians, extroverted Aussies or inward minded English to create a stirring symphony of scintillating sporting sounds that will transcend across time and space etching itself forever on the hearts and minds of all who partake in the banquet.

Every Games carries its own distinctive kind of charms as did our effort here in the Garden City of Christchurch. As awareness of the city as a gateway to the South Island playground grew so did the airfares that expanded to the South. Who wanted to go to the boring North when you could take a detour to the Sizzling South. The Northerners cursed our luck. But apart from lifting our international appeal this job brought economic growth to the region and settlers with it. In a nation where wealth and numbers have tended to flow North this was a reversal of the common trend. Employment opened up in abundance and hordes swamped in to soak up the South and the Southern fair. This was a rare glowing period for us South Islanders which we lapped up. For the government, offering the Games to the South had won back the goodwill of the Southerners and proven that life did exist past the base of Wellington at the bottom of the North Island.

Brazil, could take a very valuable leaf from the New Zealand notebook and learn to market itself beyond the well-known Big Smoke centres of Rio and Sao Paolo. There is more to a nation than just its capital and big centres. In the 74 Games Christchurch made sure that the whole South Island profited through the two week parade. Soon guests returned home talking about peripheral delights such as the ex-French settlement of Akaroa, the wild wild West Coast, the whale and dolphin filled Kaikoura coastline and the thermal treat of Hanmer Springs.

Perhaps, more than Christchurch itself the greatest victor of our Games is that place synonymous with that Kiwi daring the adventure capital of the World and our own distinctive little piece of paradise the small centre of Queenstown. While never having set foot on Brazil I am certain that there is a Queenstown waiting to be found or perhaps which only the Brazilians know of its existence. I believe it’s time that they disclosed this secret Eden with the rest of us.

To Brazil’s advantageous fortune, it has a location to the North and the Global South which is far more advantageously accessible than is the case of getting to New Zealand. In spite of this, if the will to set one’s sights on venturing to a site is established this volition is almost impossible to quash nor quell. Gracias to the Commonwealth Games of 74 the South Island prospered, grew and flourished. Roading and communications along with transport was one way in how the collective benefited.

However, at the environmental level as more and more sought to soak up our surroundings greater capital was allocated to the environment and conservation. Our wetlands, forests and sea shores received significant sums of state funding as we tried to uphold our image of a pristine paradise. All this while striving to ensure that our nation parks continued to be visited by outsiders with their hearts set on spotting a moa (we can be a charmingly deceitful bunch at times). But what is a society without the splendour of its quirks and mythological banter and fables? The Greeks had them as do us Kiwis and assuredly the Brazilians.

The 70s was an epic epoch for tree hugging, sand dune replanting, naturism and nudism (umm a pro I suppose), bird protection and an accelerating awareness of the impact which humans were tolling upon their environment. It was also the era that saw the birth of our Green party and a whole shift on our attitude towards the ‘New Right and capitalism’ (but that’s another story, folks).

The point is that Games have the power to evoke powerful and altering socio political and environmental shifts. Making us conscious about things we once barely gave an iota of thought towards. Brazil has similar pressing concerns which it cannot refute. These must be confronted and the sooner the better. They need not be bashful for we shared these blemishes. Water treatment being one such prominent case.

The Games, above all can be a catalyst for inspiring sociocultural change and advance. Pointing again to the Christchurch case, the Games stimulated suburban development contributing to affordable housing for people in the city’s poorer Eastern suburbs. The Olympic Games are more than just a 2 week hurrah project for the ego of Brazil’s political elite. The event must go past the sporting fixtures and encompass a post Olympics plan.

Such examples include the post Sydney Olympic Games which employed its facilities under the Australian Institute of Sports to develop Australia’s next generation of All Stars. The main stadium, now recognised as Stadium Australia, has gone from being an Olympic relic to a stadium of international standing for football, rugby and other code fixtures. The stadium is booked annually and is even reserved for concerts, exhibitions and other non-sports related purposes. The Malay Games (Commonwealth) of 98 was also a way to boost the nation’s activism in other previously less partaken in pursuits such as squash. Brazil can take valuable steps to ensure that their infrastructure past the puffing out of the torch does not end up as a meaningless decaying and cobweb covered white elephant.

Returning back to Christchurch (I apologise for this pendulum which I have you swinging upon) the stadium and facilities after the Games were tactfully and tastefully turned into a resplendent recreational hub which invaluably contributed to the objective of lifting health and fitness in the oft neglected Eastern side of the city. Its intention was to elevate and expand the amount of choice available to the residents especially stationed on that side of the city.

This strategy was a resounding success as such diverse diversions including Australian Football, lacrosse, underwater hockey, korfball, Gaelic Football were offered and devoured by a fitness frenzied Eastern public. Making health inducing activities affordable and accessible for the cities less affluent and amenity resource deficient lower socio economic status was a priority for the council many also contending with the staggering statistics that this tended to be the unhealthier side of the village. With figures pointing to high rates of diabetes, obesity and cardiac diseases, action needed to be taken. Supplementary to these preoccupations was the fact that these Eastern blocks tended to be populated by large numbers of indigenous Maori and Pacific Islanders who tended to underestimate the worth of investing in their health.

Comparably, Brazil shares similar concerns regarding the inequality of coloured neighbourhoods against their more economically secure whiter counterparts. The living standard between these two contrasting worlds is a rueful paradox and tangible reminder of socioethnic injustices. This is where the Games may be able to bring forth positive change in these horrid social disadvantages.

At the closure of the Christchurch Games, a deal was worked out between councillors and Eastern school boards to work out ways in which the sporting infrastructure and how other Games apparatuses could be deployed to not only lift the health of students in the Eastern suburbs but also help to tackle the violence and drug culture which ran rampantly feral throughout this impoverished part of the city.

The reformation was remarkable. Rather than forcing kids in these areas to focus on the traditional R’s of a classical education, making many feel angry, insecure and unintelligent (especially when one was forced to study British Imperial history) schools swung towards instilling these kids with positive virtues by way of the power of sports and health and fitness. For the less traditionalist in nature the option to take health science, nutrition, well-being and development studies gave these pupils a chance to follow a vocation which they could positively exert their energy into persevering. The by-product of this educational shift was an uplifting shift in the value Eastern children began to take towards education and the ambition to obtain a meaningful lifelong career.

An additional pro for all was that this movement lead to a surge in the number of athletic stars who began to emerge from the East. Sports pros who would go on to represent their Provence and state to the highest conceivable levels in sports ranging from rugby, netball to basketball.

Just imagine how such a facility could benefit Brazil’s next wave of junior sports elites. At the same time, this shift towards a “nurturing” culture where the state sought to facilitate “families” the Games brought on a wave of communal assets raised to serve both the individual and the community’s needs. Creches, kindergartens, the refurbishment of the old tired hospital and other communal facilities were some of the spectacular spinoffs which came at the conclusion of the Games.

Yes, NZ did not want the world to see that it had a “poverty problem” one could argue but either way the duty to raise the poor’s spirits was raised nonetheless. Of course, grooming the East to make it eye catching and fetching for businesses, shops and industry was part of the State promised package and on the whole the economic mood and ambience of the territory was aided in this cause. As such, communal strength and pride in these assets surged the ego and had Eastern hearts pleasingly pounding.

What also satisfyingly unfolded was an increase in the social melting pot as more citizens of “Caucasian” decent no longer felt as if they must compel themselves to pluck up the courage to enter the East. They just did. As the East expanded and evolved its uniqueness as a distinctive character unto itself allured people of European descent who normally might have avoided the domain. Cheap housing, plenty of services, good entertainment and recreational hubs compelled people to buy first homes or retirement homes. They shifted there almost in droves. As the pilgrimage proceeded, the arts and cultural societies in the East got a sublime cash shot on the arm and the beautiful arts, dance and performance flourished. Where once a car or a purse was an item that was potentially stolen now legitimate enterprises found ingenious ways to have shoppers departing with their dispensable income. Brazil’s struggling communities could be the benefactors of such well thought out social planning and smart resource management.

While some scornful sceptics still sourly downplay the meritocracy of the 74 Games in Christchurch I’d say that they would be the party pooping killjoys of the pack. The Games worked wonders for our backyard dated little colonial outpost turning us from naive children into thoughtful adults. We matured greatly. Hotels cinemas, and redevelopment of the city was required in order to accommodate the migrant rush.

In conjunction with the changing of the times education needed to reform to keep up with this change in pace. The small university was shifted to allow space for a grander campus which now paid respect to the need for skilled professionals. The popularity and papers offered by our polytechnics also evolved to meet the new tech era it found itself entering. The urgent and immediate need for skilled individuals including engineers, scientists mathematicians and computer technicians saw education sway away from the historic prominence of the humanities towards a seemingly sci-fi techy future where STEM subjects ruled (science, technology, engineering, maths). The complete modernisation of the city required  traffic management systems, road transport specialists, town and infrastructural planners, architects, electrical engineers and a host of other trade artisans.

As quaint Christchurch gradually began to be gulped up by the colossal new concrete and bitumen jungle which replaced it, the realisation that our city would never be the same again was becoming a clear realisation for all spectators present to the overhaul. As Christchurch grew north, south, “east” and west the city needed to tailor itself for these new arrivals. A more populous city necessitated more teachers, more schools, more parks, more cinemas, more video stores, more delis, butchers bakers, hairdressers, barbers, beauticians and so on. Alternatively, many of the people entering the city brought in the trades, knowledge and professions which this burgeoning city so desperately sought.

Suburbs such as the Eastern ones were designed with the desire to elevate communal values in mind while promoting the security that this space would recreationally educationally, medically, vocationally, socially and spiritually serve the community. Halls were built, churches erected and club rooms were established to show this good faith to cater for a city at the cusp of a resoundingly rare period in its history when people and resources were heading south as opposed to North. Builders and trade people and those in the service sectors contributed to the population growth.

Over time, the city felt obligated and compelled to bring down the east west Wall and other polarities which divided the wealthy west from eking east. These numbers brought benefits and beyond tourism the hospitality and the catering industries boomed. Goodbye to the tea rooms as our tastes broadened as the cafe and exotic food revolution began to take hold of the Christchurch citizens’ imaginative.

Never had times been so enthrallingly fast paced and thrilling. Small mercantile enterprises sprung up like mushrooms across the city to placate the needs of the diverse human avalanche which descended upon the city. Information bureaus, travel agencies, rental vehicle corporations, merchandise and tourist shops, clothing retailers and all kinds of gift shops sought to sell “the New Christchurch experience” to all who landed. From honey to possum gloves, rabbit fur socks to Lamb burgers.

The myths which make us who we are as a people greatly unravelled during this truly funky decade. When taxis boomed, discos emerged, dance clubs throbbed, karaoke was pumping and when our desire for exotic drinks sky rocketed. Our guest were pleased but not as much as we understandably were.

Yet, as one councillor recently remarked we have to be careful when it comes to over applauding our efforts and the opening of our first McDohs and K-Fry. In this observers opinion the “DARK” Christchurch East still might be regarded as a “cappuccino culture” where a coloured majority live under a white frothy minority with a few choc (coloured) sprinkles garnishing the top.”

In essence, my Chch East still is undeniably a highly unequal society where high levels of unemployment, family violence, individual and Collective malnutrition, struggling solo mothers and severe cases of depression and suicide reign with force. A far from perfect paradise where many unfortunately positioned kids on the hierarchical ladder still engage in high volumes of violence and truancy failing to break the Chain of Injustice which shackled their parents and previous generations.

This could be Brazil that I’m gabbing on about but no this is first world New Zealand. A society where large numbers of youth continue to fail to get an applicable and appropriate form of education, where young pregnancies and disease are persistently pressing peril and where the risk of early fatalities through binge drinking, drugs  car fatalities and gang violence swindle the future away from our misguided and impressionable adolescents.

Problems with police have fortunately improved over recent years as police get involved with young youth offenders while they encourage kids not to smoke or engage in criminal follies while promoting a good salubrious life through practising a kind of “muscular Christianity” fusing faith with fitness. And this powerful concoction does work.

Money and energy directed into health past the Games in Christchurch gave rise to the beginning of the end of the “shut up and harden up culture” which long haunted our austere frontier society. Societies now exist to help victimised women, suffering children and financially struggling families. Rather than enduring and accepting pain, the encouraging of people to embrace their problems saw the rise of several medical facilitators in the city including physiotherapists, psychologists, herbalists, optometrists and many other forms of practitioners.

A city can only blossom if it is rid of its ailments rather than trying to conceal them while making believe that they are unreal. Brazil can certainly cure or at least better itself in many respects. In the case of Spain, this post Franco nation went from regional ridicule to one of right worthy respect. Departing decades of deplorable decay it found itself at a new crossroad one of progress modernisation and glowing potential.

Let us not forget that Spain is the 3rd biggest visited tourist nation on Earth, has the 2nd fastest railway on the planet after china and was one of the European Union’s fastest developing 2nd tier states.

Yes, Spain still is far from perfect but the Games showed that the country was committed to its convictions. Brazil has the capacity to achieve similarly formidable results and I for one can’t wait to see how South Americans rally behind their Brazilian brothers and sisters.  Boa sorte, Brazil!

2 Comments

  1. Thomas King

    I have a dream. My mission an raison d’etre these recent years has been to convert Chileans to the ecstasies, ritualistic pleasures and virtues of the oval ball game. Battle hardened by past crusades such as trying to convince Americans that cricket can be just as gratifying a bat and ball joue as their baseball, I braced myself for some resolutely staunch South American obstinacy. Surprisingly, my evangelical exploits do not appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Upon first impressions most Chileans rationally and conclusively seem to embrace the values imbued in what others would regard as a seemingly savage bloodsport. To my astounded judgement, selling the glories of rugby has been an easier task than what i had previously imagined. Perhaps i shouldn’t be so astonished. After all, Chile has a close history of being visited by English seafarers who carried the Games Revolution with them into the Southern Cone states. In our shrinking world of comprehensive mass media, transport and “sampling the exotic” it was only a matter of time before rugby commenced to capture the South America imagination. Indeed, there is perhaps no greater advertisement for the “national self image” than the sports in which they binge indulge and maybe even excel at. The resounding legacy of rugby football success here in NZ has been undoubtedly a draw card for internationals seeking to live and breathe the game the way in which we do. As one Chilean friend tells me, the ambience generated by rugby here evokes the mood of the nationals whom engage in it. “The after match functions were showpieces of cultural decadence” he pronounced. “whilst they wait for their ‘hangi’ a pit roasted meal, there is a guitar which makes it way around the party and there is a lot of Maori words which i need assistance to understand.” He pauses then proceeds “for the small towns there’s a real sense of camaraderie and altruism. The town is the team and the team is the town. For 80 minutes regardless of class, race, religious creed or political standing 15men (and women) often from very contrasting backgrounds come together to play for something which transcends the game itself. “During the match they forget about their differences. They put aside their crowns, titles, social economic status variables and play for the joy of fleeing themselves from the new age human endeavour of consumption and competing against their fellow mortals. My Chilean friend vociferously crows on. “One man was telling me that it was a game that kept him in touch with his humanity. Yes he was a well endowed solvent accountant but the game gave him a socially acceptable avenue to associate with people which his upper crust colleagues out of the office may have regarded contemptibly. It’s a sad world that we live in when we’re judged for the company we keep even when it’s in our own free time and within our right to do so.” It seems that as far as society is concerned, when you make your bed you inevitably are the one who must get into it. “As he said, accountants and butchers are almost cats and dogs. They aren’t supposed to mix. In that sense, rugby was like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland or the cupboard in the Lion the Witch and the wardrobe or even the mirror in the Jabberwocky, it was medium that allowed one to traverse into a world of distorted rules, behaviours and conducts from the world from which you departed”. Recollections of my rugby playing days seemed to affirm this outsiders observations. Men playing rugby seemed to morph into completely different creatures from how they normally were before and after the occasion. It was like an oil well explosion of emotions from buttock patting, to embracing, to lively chatter, to even things like dancing, exhibitionism and plain old showboating. And at times, there was the scrapping and fisty cuffing of hands flying and arbitrational pleading with the referee. Yes, rugby did enable boys to really be boys by removing the social regulatory chips that typically kept us in check. My Chilean friend laughed. “I saw the real KiwiSpirit or soul on the rugby field, here during my time in NZ. That and when they held a ‘do’ (party) filled with booze”. To his bemusement he was mildly shocked when i announced to him that several of his expats were participants in our premier National Provincial Championship. “It’s amazing where the winds carry us Chilenos” he smiled with a devilish wink. Chile, as many New Zealanders may not be aware have a reasonably establish history when it comes to rugby. Indeed, it borders a rugby living and breathing neighbour in Argentina, a nation whom have excelled since joining the Rugby Championship which is comprised of the creme de la creme of footy powerhouses including the Australian Wallabies, the South African Springboks and of course the NZ All Blacks. “I think it’s a natural game for a lot of Latinos especial with respect to the machismo nature of certain Central and Southern American nations”. This is reinforced by the fact that Spanish, French and Italian speaking teams are starting to take a dent at the traditionally Anglophonic dominance of the game. The latin presence in rugby is certainly like the South Asian presence in cricket shaking up the old tired white settler Imperial governance of the code. “it definitely needs to be more global like football not just and English speakers game” my passionate friend emphasises. “And, fortunately enough this is beginning to happen”. My friend becomes even more animate. “Chile should have taken rugby and made it a classless game like the Kiwis or Aussies. Bit like a lot of sports we got the Imperial baggage with it. We didn’t make it our own like you guys did. But then again in Chile if you’re a mechanic you are a dispensable pawn but in NZ you can be an indispensable king”. The chess analogy was undeniably compelling, intriguing and slightly mystifying and I had to take his word on this comparative composition. “i love the magical collective social solidifying effect which the aura of rugby seems to hold over the NZder. It gives everyone a part and allows everyBody to have a voice. From the guy passing the ball to the boys cutting up the oranges to the women praying for their sons lovers and husbands survival. It really is a unifying affair”. We both concur that the South Americans have great potential when it comes to the ensuing future of rugby union. Chile, itself is to it’s commendable credit on the cusp of being a fringe line nation that is edging ever closer to realising World Cup cup qualification. In fact, a fellow South American state Uruguay has been a regular fixture at most Cups since the inaugural one in NZ back in 87. More promisingly, Chile has recorded wins against Uruguay and the growth of the games appeal in other major states can only lift the intensity of the level of rugby played on the entire continent. “once we all contract ‘footy fever’ everyone beware, we will be a force to be reckoned with” he explains waving his eyebrows like naughty butterflies. However, his remarks shouldn’t be seriously disregarded as wondrous wishful thinking as the profile of rugby has unquestionably seen its stocks of interest internationally rising since the game turned professional in 95. Prior to that the game largely consisted of tours between NZ, Australia and South Africa with Grand Slam tours to the Home Unions of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. “They were quite and elite union” remarks my friend. It was like an exclusive club which didn’t allow too many others into its privileged network. “It certainly has only become world embracing more recently compared with it’s more exceptional preferential past” i concede. Growth, exposure and globalisation has assuredly helped to cure rugby from its insular and inwardly institutional myopic British based bias. Now, one can review and represent regional perspectives in order to elevate the game for the universal betterment of all global citizens.The catalyst for this remarkable renaissance of a game rotting away in the fecund white societies of the British Commonwealth was surely the conception of the briefer form of the game, rugby 7s. It was rugby on steroids, fast, frenetic and furious leaving viewers feverishly fretting for seconds. As my friend observes “The idea deserves a Nobel Prize. In 14 minutes you get a result, get the general gist of the picture and see incessant wrestling and end to end action. Everyone can spare 14 minutes and the spectacle gives even the uninitiated a real buzz. Unlike in football (which we sinfully likebtge Americans call soccer) you might watch a game for 90 minutes, 120 minutes and still not get a goal. Often the biggest joyride comes in a 5 minute penalty shoot out. In 90 minutes you can see almost 7 game!” The shorter version of the the game certainly became a sporting exponent which gave the game a new lease on life. In it’s revamped form it shed itself free from it’s frigid monocultural manner giving the rest of the world something it could actively and enterprisingly be a part of.Sevens was rugby without the regal regalia that some Pommie games carried. It was a new wave expression which in its free flowing and flamboyantly free willed form could seduce the recently freed previously tyrannized oppressive blocks of Africa, Eastern Europe and naturally Latin America. In an ironic twist of fate the game of the oppressor became an empowering voice for the oppressed. As my friend infers “we were in awe of how the Pacific Islanders deployed their flair and flashiness in a manner which showed that rugby could be played and won without following the White Man’s script. In many respects and more, rugby like football in enables even the smallest, poorest and least developed nations to show their spirit, resolve and pride against the bigger, wealthier and whiter ones. “There’s a certain joy which comes from seeing Tongans smashing the French, Samoans annihilating the Welsh and Fijians shaking the rest of the Angloethnic family genetic tree.” The rugby leagues of the Industrial North could be just as lucrative as their footballing equivalents so excelling in rugby brought these Island nationals a great deal of self respect. Sport not only served to solidify a pride in a recognisable and distinguishable identity and national makeup but also allowed one to have the opportunity to self develop and grow while experiencing other cultures. Like Polynesians in Europe, Australia and NZ, the Argentines also benefitted for years by playing in the French leagues where they honed out and refined their craft. “When you have a chance, you take it” I exclaimed to my attentive Chilean compadre. France was a golden ticket which Argentina snapped up with both hands after France itself and later the Italians had fought tooth and claw to be taken seriously by the Anglo saxon nations.My Chilean buddy dived in. “Rugby was once like a bland English beef casserole. However, it started to become more palatable the minute one started adding Latinos and Islanders to the stew”. In agreement, i acknowledged that the new entrants had “undoubtedly” added delightful new dimensions to a previously one dimensional product. In effect, this social mingling facilitated both our privileged White Settler growth along with the ‘Outsiders’ inquisitive volition to extend their cultural reach and appreciation. My footyphilic friend admired the New Zealand All Blacks goodwill tour throughout the often neglected Oceanic Basin. “I applaud this as many North American and European teams have shunned away and show little desire of dabbling in Central America, the Caribbean or even in parts of the Southern continent”. Yet here in Auckland, you could find a real zing and zest for Polynesian society from food to music to well rugby, naturally. “Auckland was certainly a colourful cocktail of cultures” sounded my friend. “Kiwis certainly have a sound bond with their Pacific neighbours”. I’m only half convinced as I realise a lot of work in bi and multilateral relations has to be realised before this statement holds complete plausibility. Understandably, the Oz/Nz and Pacific balance could be seen as the West Europe/East Europe dilemma of one social wave flowing more towards one than the other. And yet, via the soft diplomacy of rugby we have sought to express our universal concerns towards global warming, over fishing, nuclear weapons, boosting trade, raising tourism, ensuring cultural, historical and linguistic preservation and dealing with any regional social and medical health concerns.In a surprising turn of events, a game once conspired to measure the resilience of the Anglo saxon gene pool has converted itself into a global game which largely seeks to break down social class stereotypical positions and other pejorative and degrading associations and attitudes. While “a classless game” it most recently has become, it was certainly perceived as being the game for every “body”. For unlike many other pursuits, rugby can certainly make the argument that it is a game which appreciates the human body in all of it’s shapes and forms. From stocky dumpy forwards to sleek and slinky lanky back liners rugby is quite possibly the United Nations for the human specimen at every conceivable imagining. Fat, slow, tall, midget, broad, stickman, rugby had just the right position for you. Could this be the most socialistically perfect game on Earth? Why had Marx, Lenin or Stalin not seen its virtues? That said there were still some who argued that the “real” men did all the grunt work while the “pretty dolly” boys kicked the penalties, finished the scoring and took all the glory. Yes, even rugby had it’s intersocial flaws but all in all it wasn’t bad a social experiment as far as tests are concerned. A game not only for the lads but also for Amazonian goddesses who could kick your average and not so average everyday boys butt. Heck, to prove its egalitarian meritocracy you could even play a version of the game in a wheelchair if one so desired. How even a man, woman or child deprived of ones corporal faculties could be made to feel again. My friend and I having seen the haunting film Murderball could not fail to admire nor be impressed and inspired by the grace displayed by handicapped and impaired individuals who refused to be suppressed by their lack of limbs nor for their love to lose further limbs to their yearning to also play rugby. Age was no inhibiting agent either as even men well into their twilight years resisted to surrender this life long indulgence. Even into their 60s and sometimes well beyond,elderly men partook of a form of rugby which we here in the Southern sphere term “Golden Oldie” rugby. It was the basis for even seemingly implausible grudge matches by colonials who still felt that those wily Welsh and exaggerated English just didn’t see the laws like we did. Rugby matches as such became grassy courtrooms where justice was sought though not always delivered depending upon which side you were standing on. Nevertheless, even without the tackling, scrums and other shenanigans, Retired Rugby assuredly is not a hobby for the faint hearted. I’ll give the old folksy credit where credit is due. But for a period of life where isolation and loneliness can be the final erosive force against the livings shores Grandpa Footy definitely affords the seniorly with the opportunity to fight for the joie de vivre. To denounce ones physical grounding, to continue to find a resounding purpose in life and a meaningful duty towards team camaraderie. In that sense, the folly has its noteworthy benefits. “Chilean society could surely extract a lot of positive benefits if it embraced this game more” argues my friend. “It offers so many pros at so many levels. Socialisation, rehabilitation, companionship, friendship, fitness and travel”. I nod not wishing to burst the inflating bubble of optimism being puffed up in front of me. They were pertinent positions without an inch of deniability.Rugby provides an informatively insightful induction into the lands that digest and sustain themselves upon her essence. The uniqueness of the rugby theatre is replete with cultural surprises. From Ireland’s eerie silence when one went to convert a penalty to the completely polar Welsh cantankerous singing which literally brought the house down. From the recognisably familiar whistling of the French when the ref got it wrong even when they’d got it right to the bone rattling experience of facing the four war dances of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand. Rugby could certainly be a window into the soul and a great insider into what made it’s natives tick. “In Nz i learnt that games used to be played on Sunday afternoons between 2pm and 4pm” stated my Chilean friend. “But they switched major tests to the evenings when the game went pro not only because it didn’t collide with Sunday sports, jobs or angry wives who wanted the car washed and lawn mowed”. I grinned “But above all else so more people would be free to consume the spectacle”. Indeed, pro as in “profitable” rugby had sought to market itself of the myths of masculinity and the duty to support the tribe which hailed from the amateur epoch. At times, highlighting the beauty of the Kiwi male, listening to and respecting his wife and her demands in order to get the kids to accompany him to a game that would give them their first inspirational role models in life. To the less loveable larrikin the brutish wife and family fleeing ogre intent on boozing, brawling and causing all kinds of chaos.Such pandemonium that to this day even after much refining you will never be permitted to enter most bars, clubs or dance parlours if you are detected sporting your favourite teams colours. Contentiousness can certainly be a turn off for many but at least order will be upheld. In spite of my feminist fears towards an idea of rugby as religiously sanctimonious, like Ms Worlds i cannot deny that efforts have been made to reduce the sexually and socially suspect elements of a game which can often across as testosterone charged male missiles of hypermasculinity. Of course, contact sports such as rugby, like roller derby and ice hockey stocked to the brim with a bounty of body checking will always come across as thuggish to some observers. Yet, tackle, scrum and lineout regulation has received much modification in recent years. If one still thinks rugby is war with hooped sweaters then they should have seen it pre 80s. Is it any wonder why my mother wanted me to play tennis? If ever their was a safe time to play the game it is most probably now where more nations can critique gross offences. In an era with little media and less teams, the English speakers took their lashings. However, as many other foreigners observed, the pre pro game seemed less about how many points were scored but whether you could physically survive the opposing teams maiming. When Pacific Island “head hunters” proved terrifyingly more terrific at this task than their white masters it was clear haha that the spirit of the game needed to be specified. Thank goodness for crying Frenchmen and savage Islanders for getting the ball rolling.Foreign intervention has not only helped to polish the game up and give it a meaningful new direction but has also diversified the destination where the game is now played. Legal revisions, sevens and eager beavers keen as ever to play this cleaner form of the game gifted the remastered sport of rugby with unique opening to take stage in a number of fresh hot spots including Hong Kong, Dubai and even in USA a nation which once shunned away from Brit sports who now more than ever are starting to lap them up like a kitten would a bowl of cream. “i think rugby has gone from a game where you sought to just about kill people to one where you really start to respect the well being of your fellow adversary” announced my highly philosophical student. “I remember after one tackle one guy who winded me quite badly came over to mr afterwards an apologised profusely. Even after the game, after having shouted me a beer he insisted that he should take me to the nearest clinic”. This concern for the other was certainly absent during my playing days where receiving knocks and taking them without flinching showed that you were a true male Gladiator. Thank heavens that we have evolved. The respect derived from rugby is now so invaluable that as a contact sport it is encouraged in boys schools, male dominated work places and even in prisons. “Rugby guys know that the game has its dangers and while they are keen to win they don’t wish to do it at the expense of someone’s livelihood. Someone’s breadwinner, someone’s employer, someone’s handyman”. My Chilean friend gets the giggles “i just remembered how on one occasion one little old lady screamed out from the side of the field that if anyone injured her grandson they’d have to tender her rose gardens while he recouped. They were very delicate when it came to touching him”.That given, rugby is still regarded as an acceptable avenue for the exertion of highly well controlled and tempered form of aggression. It can definitely serve to relieve one from stress and other types of anxieties which once may have spawned into petty crime, violence and domestic disturbances. In that positive sense, rugby potentially allows people to unleash themselves expressively in a way which would be hard to do in real life without causing physical or emotional grievances. In fact, it is common for certain individuals keen to experience the bonding without the boil over of the game to join rugby clubs to just take part in the training camps. This frustrates some clubs but they cannot deny the invaluable worth which the revenue provides. “one of my Paraguayan pals did this” the Chileno contests. “He was terrified of game day but he went gung ho (crazy/intense) hard out on the training days. He got in great shape and had great fun.” Without question, male bonding was heightened during these affairs and they proved (contrary to the myths) that men could be great communicators especially in packs. “The activity gave the guys so many spectacular occasions both at the individual level and as groups to meet other kindred spirits and socialise before, during and after the game. Rituals abounded their gatherings from their antics on the paddock to their congregation in the changing room to their bus time banter. It was thoroughly intriguing” presses on my friend while my engagement is less than prosaic. “Rugby is an adventure that takes you to new places, new faces and through new phases. While you play rugby you are growing constantly and the experience certainly helps in the developmental process.””What’s even better is that in many cases the girls also aren’t afraid to get involved”. Rugby, interestingly is often a sport where the men in this country are often being out trumped by the gals. However, it is common to find in most towns mixed sex “touch rugby” teams and even some women dabbling in the contact version of the same in small towns where numbers for a male or female team are lacking. This mingling appeared to take on an egalitarian awe as far as my South American scholar was concerned.Chileans largely became acquainted with the game of rugby here in Australasia post the 1960s. Some Chileans encountered it in the British Assisted Passage schemes while others later stumbled upon it in the 70s and 80s during this turbulent passage in the nation’s history. For the Chileans who remained, adopting the oval ball game over the circular one became a right of passage to being accepted as a Kiwi or an Auzzie. “Oz mates of mine are trying to actually swing me towards rugby league. I like the game but the star power is not quite the same as rugby (union). It’s really just an Ozzie, Kiwi and Pommy three man standoff” says my friend shrugging. “Plus like football having been pro for quite a while it is a sport filled with primadonnas and show ponies. I like rugby it’s still quite down to earth and it’s reach and scope are far greater”. He raises a thumb, “still, it is a sport that we should consider bringing over to the continent and one which we’d have bragging rights over those Argentine friends of ours” stammers my friend with a wry smirk. South American relations could concretely be bolstered through the establishment of regular rugby exchanges.A South American league is certainly a feasible proposition and there are enough countries to make this dream a reality. While Chile is a long way off from the high calibre level of rugby played on the continent’s leading nation Argentina, South American interest in the sport would surely elevate the games popular profile. Beyond the soft power use of sport to extend diplomatic relations such as has been the case with cricket between the South Asian states or football between the European Union members and rugby in the Commonwealth, rugby ties could be a way to iron out regional tensions which still haunt and plague many South American countries. Asides from the growth of the Global South societies anothet note worth taking is that many of the nations who reside in the rugby top 20 standings include many first world nations. To ascend into this club would be a commendably prestigious feat for Chile and a testament to their social advancement. “Success in sport is a great indicator of a progressive society” my friend informs me. “Often, sporting success comes in conjunction with economic success”. “The prestige along with the chance to mingle with the global big boys would be kind of like belonging to a nicer sporting equivalent of the TPPA” hints my upbeat friend. Sport indeed has the power to bring nations closer together in all forms of activities. I ask him if he has any dreams rewarding the future of rugby in Chile. “I know it seems at present implausible” he sighs “but I’d really love to see Chile have a go at hosting a Rugby World Cup”. This comes slightly as a shock to me and he tries to validate his reasons in order to put me at ease.”Even on the absurd surface of it all i honestly believe it’s possible as we proved years ago when we staged the Football World Cup”. I still must look as if I’m not completely convinced. He preserves with his postulating deploying that saving grace of argumentative swaying; the use of flattery. “I know the global trend these days tends to be the staging of tournaments often in two or more states. But just look at New Zealand. They did a magnificent job on their own accord in 2011 without having to share a morsel of the glory with Australia.” He beams seeing that I’m slowly starting to warm towards his case. “The tournament was a great advertisement for your country and Chileans could similarly profit. I think it would be cheaper potentially than a Football World and it would be a first for the South American people. It would be a marvellous marketing manner to put Chile Chile Chile into the minds of several of our most valuable international partners not to mention the pride and possibilities it would bring to the Chilean public.” In his closing statement he adds his final point to the sales pitch which has absolutely sent my mind spinning. “I understand that Chile is no rugby Superpower but one could argue that about Japan who have been awarded Hosting rights. That said Japan did beat South Africa recently and are driven to racing up the rankings. It all comes down to regional development and much of Asia wants to replicate the Japan success story. Likewise, we want to do one better and catch up with Los Pumas. South American rugby could be very very strong. All it needs is a spark”. I raise the idea of a shared competition with the Argentines, a nation whom the International Rugby Board may give greater consideration to in the matter of bestowing tournaments such as a World Cup. “of course i feel it’s highly improbable that Chile would bid for the Cup but that doesn’t mean that it ever will. If we grow and rise in the standings it will certainly make the public and the politicians take notice. Don’t get mewrong the gap between Chile and teams such as Nz, England, South Africa and even the Pacific Islanders will take some time to bridge. But, the gulf between Chile and teams such as Uruguay, Namibia and Romania for instance could be manageably stemmed. The bonus is that in many cases we be playing against nationally who ply their trade in the big rugby leagues of Argentina, South Africa and France. So there is no loss in playing teams such as those mentioned or the Spanish, Russians or Georgians. Being on the Pacific Coast, it only stands to logic that we eventually enter into the Pacific Rim Cup with established nations such as the States, Canada, Japan, the Islands with the beautiful opportunity to face and learn from the NZ Maori match whenever it comes our way. I think this team (the Maori) has been a wonderful asset to not only Nz rugby but also spreading the growth of the game. Many Chileans in NZ have also hinted that touring the provences would be a great facilitator to Chilean growth. I don’t deny it as I’m positive that some NZ city and country teams could probably humble many international teams but then of course getting to that part of the world is not cheap especially for amateurs.” He pauses to regain his train of thought. “Yes a World Cup would be the Midas touch for Chile and while we could share the load with Argentina and/or Uruguay I genuinely feel that we’d lose the ka pow factor especially if big brother Argentina was involved. They’d do anything and everything to steal the spotlight” he bellows heartily.The uplifting ideal scenario i propose is if Chile was involved in a Latin American rugby footballing confederation but my friend shakes his head in disagreement. “Regular Chile vs Argentina tussles of epic magnitide are still light years away. Sadly, in South America at present there is Argentina then Uruguay then every one else. The tight matches needed to validate a conference are still not close enough to justify the effort to take such steps. Buuut it will happen.”If Chile break into the top 20 one quarter of worlds best teams would be from the Americas. This may be just the impetus needed for the future when European teams tour Argentina to include countries such as Chile and Uruguay on the itinerary too. world shrink n people travel we have kiwi coach. “We would without hesitation love to play in the Rugby Championship alongside NZ someday the team we still consider to be the global benchmark and there is no denying that Argentina have remarkably risen because of their association with these giants. However, even in the less esteemed Pacific Cup the USA, Japan and Canada have benefited greatly from the Polynesian showdowns against warriors who often do seasons in the tough European, Australian and Kiwi comps. And the Nz development team (the Baby Blacks) typically contain a scattering of future All Blacks. We’d love to play against the All Blacks before they became All Blacks” my friend radiates with self satisfaction. A plus in this day and age is that most teams are showing a willingness to spread the game. Nz have recently signified their intent to tour the USA Japan and even Samoa whom they are donating the entire profits of the game. South Africa and Australia similarly have made efforts to tour tier two European nations and established rugby nations such as France are deploying rugby as a civilising tool to strengthen relations between the West and the former Eastern Bloc nations. “The USA is most likely to develop a pro series” my friend points out to me “and if America puts it’s mind and dollars into it the sky is the limit. One just needs to see how football or soccer asthey call it exploded after they hosted the 94 World Cup. I think the Americas need to host a World Cup and the USA has the greatest potential and green to do so. At the moment it has the pulling power that South America does not only because of its strong relations with the Old World ‘Across the Pond’ and in recent years with her former acquisitions, the USs sheer size status and stability but also because of the nation’s massive market potential and cultural diversity. In the States, you can pretty much sell it all. There’ll always be a keen buyer. But that doesn’t mean we cant ride on Tio Sam’s coat tails if she hosts a Cup or gets a pro league running. Like the French league which has proven to be a bastion for Italian, Romanian and Argentina players, a US. Circuit could be a nursery for Latin talent. But all this will happen in good time my Kiwi friend” my patiently contemplative and philosophical amigo anticipates. “We must keep calm and not panic. While we develop the longer form of game we should probably start with the shorter form. I can’t see any reason why we cant rapidly rise in 7s rugby when so many others have. With regular games, guaranteed opponents and maybe the code remaining a permanent gold medal Olympic sport we should take every interest in having a go at it. In fact, as the hunger for a medal goes, the greater will be the competition meaning that the players we face will be taking this version of rugby much more seriously than in the past when the atmosphere was more akin to a carnival.” i fully support the idea that. Chile should have a permanent fixed slot on the Internet 7s Rugby calendar window. The great advantage of 7s rugby is that unlike the larger and longer format of the game securing a fixture against a major team is frequent certainty. Chileans savoured the instalment when they hosted it in the past gaining a great insight into the cultures of others while the guests learnt plenty about Chile. “Kiwis loved the South” gloated my friend “especially when they knew that they didnthave to worry about snakes”. It was a breath of air from the regular sights of London, Johannesburg and Auckland. It’s ironic in so many ways the year of 95 when rugby was unshackled from its Imperial stronghold of Mother England and her infants. Like the liberation of South Africa from the tyranny of apartheid rugby has gone from being a game which once defended and reflected Anglo Saxon virility and purity to a game which now liberates one from the dark forces of hegemony. From the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa and Latin America this is the epoch where the once former colonials have banded in unison and where the ‘Ex-Empire is striking back. Rugby has remarkably given a voice to the formerly marginalised and freed the world from its past imperial injustices along with its tumultuous dealings with dictators and neo liberalism and collective hardship. In the case of Chile rugby represents a glowing path of potential for a nation slowly finding it’s feet in a world where they have every hope of shaping for the better. Rugby, may just be the key needed to do so.

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  2. Thomas King

    This interaction was conducted with a rugby mad Chilean amigo who was also immersed himself passionately into the sociology of sports while here in NZ. In particular, he was fascinated with the hegemony of selective Anglo Saxon sports and how they had long sought to marginalise, denounce and reject the culture, sex, ethnicity and identity of the “Other”. Rugby is clearly a sport on par with this erroneously exaggerated farcical fallacy and he sees positive evidence in a conceptual shift with the entry and success of more teams from beyond the realm of the former British Empire and the gradual welcoming of them in to the fray by their once fiercely opposed former historical objectors. I found the encounter to be highly shape shifting and mind altering and a discussion which was centred upon a thought provoking topic filled with lively expressive dialogue and incredibly sharp and witty interchanges.

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