Like a Pair of Baggy Jeans, Rugby Union is an Faddish Relic from the 1990s

Over the past two weeks I have undergone an emotional journey concerning my relationship with the Wallabies and the sport of rugby union in general.

The journey has had four distinct phases:

  1. Not giving a single fuck about the Wallabies / rugby union.
  2. Being mildly aroused about the fact the Wallabies could win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in more than a decade, and resolving to watch the games.
  3. Equal parts boredom and disappointment.
  4. Return to phase 1.

The first part of this journey, not giving a fuck about the Wallabies, has lasted the best part of the decade. The remaining steps lasted a little under a fortnight.

The speed at which I passed through these steps – from abject indifference, not being somewhat exciting, and then back to abject indifference – is a reflection of the two Bledisloe Cup games which have taken place. One was incredibly boring and involved neither team scoring a try, and the other was an embarrassing shellacking.

I would imagine countless others have gone through the same process. So why had we been sucked back into caring about the Wallabies at all?

It comes down to baggy jeans.

By baggy jeans, I mean the low-slung, loose, hip-hop jeans that dominated male fashion for a period of five to ten years somewhere around the 90s.

Wearing baggy jeans back-to-front: an even shorter-lived fad
Wearing baggy jeans back-to-front: an even shorter-lived fad

For anyone who spent their formative years in this period, baggy jeans were de rigeur. Indeed, such were their prevalence that any male wearing anything tighter than a boot-cut was likely to have his taste, and sexuality, seriously questioned.

However, shortly after the turn of the millennium, hip hop and the baggy jeans were swiftly replaced in popular culture by the Strokes and skinny, tighter jeans.



Many who grew up during the baggy jeans period (1992 to 2002), had trouble comprehending the shift. What was this weird, tight denim fad? Why were men suddenly wearing women’s jeans? Why couldn’t we stick with what was regular: good old fashioned denim jeans that hung below your ass to expose your satin boxer shorts?

These questions, while common among 18-year-olds at the time, belied a myopic worldview and of long-term trends in general.

Anyone older than 21 recognised that tight jeans weren’t the fad – they were the norm, and fashion trends had simply regressed towards the mean (hat tip: Nate Silver).


Thanks, champ.
Thanks, champ.

Tight jeans had been around for deacdes before the 90s, and will continue to be popular for decades afterwards.

When you’re young, it is difficult to comprehend that your worldview may be incorrect and there are bigger, more long-term trends at play to which you are unaware. While you may experiencing a fad for the first time, there’s a good chance your parents have seen the same thing drift in and out of popularity several times before.

The Wallabies, and by extension the game of rugby union, are the baggy jeans of the Australian sports landscape.

Those growing up in the 90s thought baggy jeans and Wallabies’ success were normal, regular things. And now reality has struck, it’s hard to let go of the view that their primacy is not the status quo.

That’s why, as a child of the 90s, you can get roped back into watching a Bledisloe Cup game at the simple promise of a return to the Halcyon days, when George Gregan was still quick and your jeans fell down when you were running from the cops.

But trying to re-live the past is ultimately futile. Like baggy jeans, the Wallabies are now associated with a sub-culture and the only people who wear them or watch them are rare units who should be avoided at all costs.

By Ben Shine


TPA Continues North Asian Offensive with Japan Trip

Given that The Public Apology now has a presence in several Asian markets, it is important to distinguish the various customs in each territory in order to do business. Indeed, one must seek to master the art of non-verbal Japanese communication…

As you may already know, The Public Apology is seeking to penetrate North Asian markets as part of an aggressive expansion strategy.

TPA founder Dave J. Edwards is currently in Tokyo negotiating a number of business deals with Japanese prospectives. In order to do so, Edwards recently undertook an intensive cultural education class on business etiquette – specifically, the art of apologetic bowing.

In Japan, one must choose an appropriate apology that is proportional to the degree of guilt. The person must convey this guilt through various bows, the extent of which will vary depending on the type of bow (i.e. a 90 degree bow is more serious than a quick 30 degree bow, and so forth).

Of course, given that this website is founded upon the great art of the public apology, we are well equipped to handle such sensitive communication matters. Please see below for a YouTube clip that explains all the subtle nuances of bowing in Japan.*

By staff writers

* No cultural insensitivity is intended here. We have great respect for the traditions of all our North Asian neighbours.

C’mon Rugby Union, Have A Go Ya Mug!

Rugby union failed us again on Saturday night.

As a concept, rugby union is great. When played well, rugby union can excite even the most skeptical, non-partisan viewer. But rugby union is rarely played well. 

The only time I was truly captivated by a game of rugby union was, of course, in the year 2000. The so-called ‘Test of the Century’, in which the All Blacks edged out Australia 35-34 in one of the greatest exhibitions of running rugby, rightfully deserves its place in history.

But sadly, nothing has come close to topping this game since.

It is rare that both teams will sub-consciously agree to play running rugby. Sometimes, one team will attempt to open up the game, while the other will produce stifling tactics at the breakdown designed to frustrate the opposition and fans alike. Often, both teams will agree to grind the entire match out, relying on their kickers to slot anything from inside 50 metres out.

In the absence of free-flowing offensive play, commentators will of course focus on the ‘contest’. But the contest alone will not save rugby union.

Can't say I give a shit about this aspect of rugby union.
Can’t say I give a shit about this aspect of rugby union.

No-one (with the exception of middle-aged, private-school educated, 1st XV ex-prop forwards) cares about scrum tactics. To those who appreciate continuity, the scrum specifically can be too much to bear. The mere sight of 115+ kg men failing to properly engage, thereby wasting several minutes of play per game, is fucking frustrating.

The referees, too, are another unfortunate variable in rugby union – a code already plagued by variables.

The Australian Rugby Union has it right with their decision to trial a new points system in the upcoming National Rugby Championship. Here, penalties and drop goals will be worth just two points, with bonus points to be awarded for teams that score several tries. Conversions will be worth three points, thus enticing teams to play attractive running rugby.

Fuck it’d be good if this rule change catches on internationally. It would be, as they say in the business world, a real game changer.

But for a code that talks a lot about running rugby, it doesn’t actually do a lot of it. It’s sad, because in this increasingly converged sporting landscape, rugby should strive to capture the audience’s imagination, lest it lose out to a competitor code.

Rugby union is, in essence, a sheltered private school jock who has never moved off Sydney’s North Shore. He got a job straight out of university (Commerce/Law at the University of Sydney) and now works at one of the Big Four banks.

Synonymous with rugby union.
Synonymous with rugby union.

But rugby union needs to realise that there is a big wide world out there just waiting to be explored. It’s got the tools to do it – it just needs to open its mind and think a bit outside the box.

In order to salvage its flagging reputation as a boring bloke, rugby union needs to have a go. It needs to create a Couchsurfing account, travel South America, have anonymous sex in a backpacker hostel and get locked up overnight in a Bolivian jail for public intoxication.

I get that it rained a bit on Saturday night, which made handling tough. But a 12-12 scoreline comprised solely of penalty goals isn’t going to win non-partisan types over.

It might even have partisan types switching over to the AFL just to see what’s going on.

By Dave Edwards