Ebrahim Moolla: 7 ways to fall head over heels in love with rugby

There’s a lot more to rugby than the Amabokke and the occasional Rugby World Cup. If you’re new to the joys of the game, or if you just want a handy refresher, try this guide to some of the codes and flavours that will have you cheering, on the sidelines or on the couch.


By Ebrahim Moolla

Sevens. If you have the concentration span of an inebriated goldfish and like to dress up as a Teletubby on weekends, Sevens is for you.

A distilled form of the 15-man game, teams of seven do battle over seven-minute halves, with stoppages few and far between. The format lends itself to upsets, so don’t spend too much time away from the TV, getting that sandwich.

The Blitzbokke should be on their way to Rio for the sport’s Olympic debut, so start building the anticipation by tracking the World Series now. 

Tens is for hipsters among us. Tournaments don’t come along very often, but when they do, it’s enough to get the beard oil out. With five forwards, five backs and 10-minute halves, the game runs along the same lines as Sevens, so expect blistering pace and non-stop action.

Surprisingly, the game is immensely popular in the rugby heartland of ahem, South East Asia, especially Malaysia, where it originated. There is an annual local tournament – held in Cape Town, of course.

Super Rugby is the main course for the true rugby connoisseur. The crème de la crème of Southern Hemisphere and Japanese rugby put their outstanding talents on display, through months of punishing tests, with any one of the 18 sides capable of taking the plaudits on the day.

The time differences means you’ll also be able to catch games on a Friday morning – a great excuse to go into the office late. It’s not for nothing that the champions celebrate like they’ve won the World Cup.

The Currie Cup, established in 1892, is the oldest rugby competition on the planet. Provincial teams, full of behemoths chomping at the bit to make a statement, are urged on by partisan fans all over the country.

It is a platform for established players to show they belong in the green and gold and for young players to show they can make the step up to Super Rugby and the national side. Best of all, it removes those pesky New Zealanders from the equation. This is one for the purist.

The Varsity Cup. If you like to be ahead of the pack and be in the know, the Varsity Cup is where you’ll get the inside track on the rugby stars of the future.

It’s also a great way to maintain links with your alma mater, with 13 South African universities putting out teams. The competition has been a testing ground for experimental rules since its inception in 2010 – try nine-point tries and two referees on for size.

The atmosphere is fantastic at the games, with students coming out in their droves to back their boytjies. Stormers trio Nizaam Carr, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh and Eben Etzebeth all graduated through the system.

Beach rugby. Are you the type who finds it difficult to decide between Newlands and Clifton? A game of beach rugby may be what you need to get your fix. Everything is better when you throw sand, sun and surf into the mix.

It’s tougher to run on the beach sand, but it’s easier on the body when you’re tackled to the ground. A fast-growing derivative of the full game, beach rugby is all about single–point tries and running rugby, because there aren’t any posts. Post-match pina coladas are obligatory.

Rugby league? Erm, you must be a Brit or from Down Under. Cheers, mate.

  • This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.