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Thoughts on a plane, heart in Brisbane


John Eales

4.10pm Saturday, July 21: QF1 departs for London.

It's always hard when passions collide. I love my food and wine but I also enjoy being fit. I love my kids but also enjoy my own company, or at least 10 minutes peace every now and then. And as I sit on a plane bound for London I am missing out on the dramatic conclusion to the 2012 Super 15 rugby championship.

I know it seems rather ungrateful to lament missing the final acts of a provincial rugby competition for the world's greatest sporting event but, even for us fanatics, such sacrifice will soon be redundant. In four years' time in Rio de Janeiro, rugby will be back at the Olympics, in the abbreviated, frenetic form of sevens.

It won't have been a brief hiatus for rugby – 92 years to be precise. Makes colour TV seem like the new, new thing and MySpace futuristic.

Certainly it's been long enough for most of us to forget that the US is the reigning gold medallist. You think the Waratahs are in a bad patch? Well it's been more than a century since Australia's anthem was sung for rugby at the 1908 London Games.

7.40pm: Somewhere over the Northern Territory.

Kick-off. Reds on step one of three to retain their title, the Sharks striving for their first.

Rugby will bring much to the Olympics but the Olympics will bring so much more to rugby.

One reason rugby is back in the Olympics is its universality; it is nigh on a religion in New Zealand (why are so many great rugby players New Zealanders? Why are so many great sprinters Jamaican?) and Wales; likewise in places such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga – which will be vying to win their country's first-ever gold medal.

But it is also important for some fast-emerging aspirants such as Kenya and the Netherlands (yes that's right, the Dutch play rugby).

Another reason is equality. women's sevens, – for which Australia is reigning world champion – is being targeted as a medal opportunity by some surprising countries. One is again the Netherlands, which came third in a recent major international meet.

They are far from a traditional rugby power but have scoured their country for likely women, physically and athletically predisposed for rugby, and have contracted them in pursuit of gold. The US men's side has done similarly.

8.30pm: Over the Timor Sea.

Half-time at Suncorp Stadium. When the Reds lead at half-time they rarely lose. If they are behind it could be a lottery. What's the score?

The Olympics are special and are not solely about winning. In our team of perhaps 500 athletes all are peers, none more important than another, all are Olympians. An eclectic collection of athletes, of physical and psychological extremes – many of whom, while household names and legends at home, are unknown in other countries, perhaps all others.

But an Olympic gold is still the most universally recognised honour in sport and will give sevens stars the chance to stand at least beside rugby World Cup winners.

Australia currently has no specialist sevens legend such as Wasale Serevi or Eric Rush – good XVs players but giants of sevens. A gold medal may change all that.

It may not ultimately define your life but it can certainly pencil an outline. An outline for you and a platform for your sport.

9.20pm: East of East Timor.

Full-time sounds, who won?

Three hours to destination, if I sleep it won't seem so long. If I watch any of the fairly average movies it will seem forever. Patience is a virtue, but perhaps in these days of instant media and news gratification it is an absent virtue.

12.10am: Land in Singapore.

Phone on, global roaming on, searching for a network. Ten texts would be a good sign, winners celebrate en masse and virally. One text would not be, losers prefer solitude. "How'r yr Reds looking now!" says one.

Alas, the Reds lose 30-17.

John Eales will be an athlete liaison officer for the Australian Olympic Team.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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