Hands desperately groping at shorts. Loud passionate grunts. Oddly shaped balls being lovingly fondled. You can’t beat rugger. Now, egg-chasing is a strange sport. Sellotape around thighs. Cauliflower ears. Passing the balls backwards to go forwards. And, er, why is that a penalty exactly? Who cares – we got three points! It’s certainly odd, but for proper macho, man-on-man contests of muscle crashing into muscle (and some chub on the front row there), of brute force, of blood and thunder… it makes football and its cowardly play-acting antics look more than a little bit girly in comparison. It’s a sport where you’re allowed to get sloshed as you watch. A sport where really fat people can be good. And a sport where, unlike football, the best team does usually win. Rugby is brilliant and the Rugby World Cup, the world’s third largest sporting event, is coming to a place near you in September. Not just any place: New Zealand, where they love the game more than their own mothers/sheep. Having rugby’s top tournament in the Land of the Long White Cloud is the equivalent of a football World Cup in Brazil. The ‘like a religion’ thing is a cliché, but they’re completely and utterly nuts for the game. It’s going to, well, kick off. Even if you can’t get tickets, it will be well worth venturing over the Tasman for. The whole of New Zealand will be talking about one thing and one thing only. There’ll be a festival frenzy from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga. The World Cup Roadshow has already been touring the country, whipping up excitement, as if that even needed doing. People are ready. Fans are ready. Players are ready. Well, in a minute. Where did I put that Sellotape? The tournament will be played over seven weekends from September 9 to October 23 and in 13 venues. The host cities and towns are, in geographical order going north-south; Whangarei, Auckland (who have both the legendary Eden Park and newer North Harbour Stadium), Hamilton, the eggsellent Rotorua, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington and on the South Island; Nelson, Napier, Dunedin and Invercargill. Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city, was to stage several games, but due to February’s earthquake they’ve had to be moved elsewhere. However, the home city of one of the Super 14’s most successful teams, the Canterbury Crusaders, will still be going rugger nuts. There’s a big fanzone that will be set up in North Hagley Park (it’s got geo-domes and everything). There will be lots of egg-shaped festivities and doubtless lorry-loads of Speight’s being drunk. Other towns and villages will be putting on a show too. Even if you don’t manage to get to a game for whatever reason, we’re confident it’s going to be a right laugh just being in a rugby mad place for the sport’s biggest event.