‘Love tradition and hate convention.’ That understanding has held many a free spirit in good stead; lets a man reap the benefits of conformity whilst maintaining his integrity. Powerful stuff. Hakas are tradition.
A royal on Lions tours, the Scottish crowd singing the second verse of Flower of Scotland without music, absolute silence whilst a kicker lines up at Thomond Park and, more recently, bad facial hair on touring Wallabies’ upper lips are rather enjoyable traditions.
Meaningless post game platitudes in interviews have become convention. New English alternate jerseys every season, silly post-try hand gestures, deriding even French domestic rugby as being a ‘soft northern hemisphere’ respite and the constant selection of Dean Mumm are largely unwanted conventions.
Of rugby’s most highly prized traditions is the reverence paid to the Grand Slam, a clean sweep of victories against the Home Nations. There is also a Six Nations Grand Slam which involves any of the competing teams defeating all comers but I’ll concern myself with the former.
It sounds such an imperious achievement. The Grand Slam or, as I imagine the French might call it, le Grand Slam. Indeed beating the Home Nations with a scrum as robust as an undercooked pavlova is quite an achievement, particularly on their own soggy turf.
But I think as far as naming rugby achievements goes we are all missing a trick? Lets turn this thing upside down; surely it is much harder for a northern hemisphere team to defeat all three SANZAR nations.
I’ve long been an advocate of intuition over research but I am sure someone out there will know the answer to this question. Has a home nation ever successfully defended their home ground during the Autumn/Spring Internationals against the Big Three?
Did England do it around the turn of the millennium? Did France? If it has been done it can’t have been more than twice.
It would be quite an achievement. Grand even. But what would you call it? A Real Grand Slam? The Grandest Slam? I Can’t Believe Its Not a Grand Slam? It needs a name.
As with my research skills I’ll concede my marketing skills are minimal and mostly derived from my box set of Mad Men Series One to Three however, never one to fear dipping a toe into someone else’s waters, I think there is something in it.
Like all countries, the Home Countries’ rugby supporter’s love something to boast about so why not give it to them. The Autumn Internationals offer the tourists a shot at one of rugby’s greatest traditions but offers nothing to the Home Nations.
The challenge is already there, the games area already being played, we just need to market it.
Don, get the guys from creative in here. We’ll work hard through the night and won’t stop till we hit the liquor cabinet.