RUGBY and BILTONG. Talk about a love affair...

The 2019 Rugby World Cup: Thoughts and Snack Strategies

Let the countdown begin.  I'm now in Madrid, planning to watch the game from the hotel and passing up any opportunity to see another museum, monument, palace and what not until at least noon.  Not to stereotype, but there are two things South Africans are most definitely wild about: biltong and rugby.  Don’t attempt to get between them, for that’s like trying to remove a t-bone from the jowls of a Doberman.  I know this because I married a South African gentleman and noted recently that when he’s watching rugby, his brain is fixated intently upon the TV screen and he’s quite literally incapable of acknowledging my existence, much less processing my mundane questions.  It’s remarkable really.   Sure, I do believe he employs selective hearing most days, but this isn't the case when a rugby game is on.  It’s as if he has entered into this deep state of meditation, like the most practiced Tibetan monk, and he’s completely unreachable.  Unless, mind you, the mundane question is “would you like some more biltong, dear?”  For whatever reason, that one breaks through and makes a miraculous connection, and he might grunt or nod to signal the answer is yes.  The answer is always yes.

Of course these two beloved things go together in the most ideal way imaginable; just add an ice cold brewski and you’re in business.  This I know.  What I’m not so knowledgeable about is the game of rugby, the primary topic of this blog, since I’m a Texas girl who grew up with American football as our family’s primary source of sporting entertainment.  So I now hand over the wheel to Kieran, who is an avid rugby fan 100% comprised of South African DNA.  He was captain of his team back in his glory days and he’s well equipped to really speak to the topic.  He’s also one of our founders.  Moving right along in Kieran’s words… 

"Nothing tastes quite as sweet as throwing down a bag of biltong while watching a sport that’s best described as a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.  The Rugby World Cup is nearing the final match.  We hear “ruggers" and fans alike, who all made the long journey to Tokyo to play/watch the game in person, are trying to figure out which button actually flushes the toilet and which activates a “wet surprise.”  While I have to admit England’s defeat of New Zealand was quite unexpected, I can’t help but cheer for my beloved Springboks.  Don’t take it the wrong way when I issue my expert (and humble) prediction that England is going to get their buttocks handed to them on a silver Sunday roast platter, mashed peas and all.  I’m sorry, my English friends, but the line has been drawn and you know how it goes.  Bok blood runs through my veins and pumps through my heart.   

Although we may disagree on which team we support, the one thing we can agree upon is that no match is complete without a cold one, or ten. The culture of rugby and drinking “responsibly” are closely entwined with World Cup organizers reporting that in 2015, more than 1.9 million liters of beer were consumed. Some may say that four years is more than enough time for Japan to stockpile brews, but even with the Kirin Brewery Co. more than tripling Heineken production and many cities throwing up “emergency bars,” I am still skeptical.  For those of you with a valid passport and tickets to the game, I’m green with envy and I encourage you to add sake bombs to your repertoire, you know, as a way to stretch the beer supply and avoid a complete catastrophe should they actually run out.  What I wouldn't exactly encourage is the idea of noshing on sushi while taking in a rugby game.  That feels so wrong.  Biltong and beer are fundamental essentials when it comes to this sport.  On a different note, for everyone who plans to enjoy the game in your local pub or sports bar, I salute you.  But considering I’m on Central Standard Time, I humbly remind you that if you talk about the score before the mandatory “24-hour social media gag order,” do not be surprised if you have international friends wishing to buy an entire keg for you, for the sole purpose of pouring it all over your inconsiderate head. 

For our Biltong Baron fans who are unfamiliar with Rugby, it can best be described as so: combine a game of American football (but take away all of the “ridiculous” protective padding) with a disorderly bar fight, after which both sides decide to shake hands and simply get plastered together.  Calling it a contact sport is an understatement.  It’s grueling and requires unwavering energy to keep it moving  through the non-stop pummeling on the pitch.  As one might expect, such a tough sport takes both tough ruggers and dedicated supporters who know how to properly fuel their bodies.  Yes, this is where I discreetly plug the protein-packed goodness of biltong (again).  Whether preparing for a long day of “hydrating” while supporting your team or for an intense battle on the pitch, biltong is the perfect snack to keep you cheering or rucking (yes that is a real rugby term and not a type-o). 

For all of the die-hard fans who will be watching the final match this weekend, whether from Tokyo or from your local pub in the wee hours of the morning, I will be right there will you downing brews and biltong, and waking up the neighbors with every blown call and every nail-biting try.

In closing, GO BOKS.

Cheers and ruck on,

Kieran"

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