Home Team Rugby Opener

I just spent a lovely English fall afternoon today at the home opener of the local rugby team, London Irish, and it was a great outing. Our team lost by one point but it was only after a dramatic, down-to-the wire finish that made it a spectator’s delight. If you wish to learn a bit about the stadium and the game, see my post from last spring about attending my first-ever pro rugby match.
Today’s match was marked by over-zealous officials who called penalty after penalty (on both sides) that really stopped the flow of the game. Season ticket holders around me were commenting on the fact that they’d never seen so many penalty kicks in a single game. Tempers flared a bit on the field, too, and there were several unsportsman-like conduct penalties. Even after some off-season studying,  I found I remain firmly in command of only about 50% of the game’s rules.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed is the teams’ uniforms. Advertising is THE most important thing on their jerseys. Here’s an example,

So you’d be forgiven if you thought the name of the team was LLanera. However, that’s the name of a Spanish property company that was last year’s major sponsor. The little bit that I’ve circled is actually the team logo (click for larger image). Now, imagine if this was applied to American football jerseys. I’ve whipped up a crudely Photoshop’d example of what a Washington Redskins jersey might look like (with apologies to Mr. Portis):

Commercialism notwithstanding, the scale, cost, commute (£2.80 round trip bus), and pleasant atmosphere makes attending London Irish matches at Madejski Stadium (built entirely by a local developer; no public funds) a real delight and I plan to attend as many home matches as I can. Who knows… I may even buy a jersey.

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