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February 2014

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On Rugby and that Cambridge Essay

I'm currently sitting on my bed watching the game between Ireland and Scotland, and it's making me really appreciate the aspect of being in the crowd when a game is played. There is simply nothing quite like it, and I feel proud to be a part of that feeling nearly every other week at my rugby club, the Newcastle Falcons.

It annoys me when people shake off the greatness of sport and how it affects people; just because you don't enjoy a sport doesn't mean you are in any way better than those who do. But then again, some people may not enjoy sport as much as the next person, but please, please don't let that mean sport is a load of bullshit for stupid, obsessed fans.

One of the best feelings is being part of a crowd and urging your team to win. The atmosphere surrounding the game can become infectious and you can't help but get sucked in, to cheer on your team until your voice is hoarse. I do that quite a lot.

But it's the feeling that there are people all around feeling the exact same thing, feeling the same heartbreak and annoyance and joy and adoration, feeling the same for a group of man kicking a ball around a field in the name of sport.

It's something weird, when you can detect the feelings of the crowd when you're at a match. The anticipation for a try for your team, desperation for a victory or the anger at the opposition or the ref (though anger is pretty easy to recognise because it's usually a bunch of geordies swearing loudly at the referee). What really baffles me how you can feel tense, how the atmosphere changes when something on the pitch makes the entire crowd go mental, and how much that can affect a game.

Fans are powerful in a game. It takes a great team to have great fans, but great fans follow great clubs. I'm proud to be part of a club that is known to have some of the most intimidating fans in it's ranks, and you can really tell it makes a difference when all those southern clubs come up to Kingston Park to play on a rough, windy day. The fans really do make a difference

One of my favourite moments concerning rugby was when I went to Twickenham for the first time. There's something about singing the national anthem at the top of your lungs with 80,000 other people, and then launching into a rendition of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariots' to really make you feel a part of English rugby.

And when a Welsh player was tackled and badly broke his leg, there was a Mexican Wave that lasted for three complete circles around the stadium, keeping the crowd entertained. It was something quite magical.

I'm going to stop with my poetic sappy-ness now, and just say that rugby holds a special place in my heart. Because as a fan, it takes me to hell and back, and to be a part of something that thousands of other people follow around the world is really quite fantastic. It's amazing how much a gang of (rather hot) guys chasing a ball around a field can have such an affect on you.

Oh, and that Cambridge essay is not finished. It should happen soon, though.