LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s like That...The rugby has our nation anticipating the next big game

Sport is a funny thing isn’t it? It divides and unites at the same time. Take football for instance – friendships and fights can all hinge on what colour shirt you take to wearing at the weekend. And, more often than not, those colours are inherited rather than chosen.

Notts County and Liverpool are my family teams and even my baby cousin knows it. She was barely old enough to walk when my uncle had her trained to say ‘boo’ in reply to Man United and ‘woo’ to Liverpool.

I have to admit however I am not the biggest football fan. While many people regard football as ‘the beautiful game’, for me it has to be rugby. Sure it comes with cauliflower ears, occasional blood and plenty of bruises, but I’d take that over the pristine hair and permatan any day. And this Saturday is going to be something special as England face their final game of the Six Nations and hopefully come away with the trophy!

For me rugby is just the better game. As the famous saying goes – ‘Football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen’. And ladies of course, and very well at that – England not only hosted the 2010 World Cup, they even made it to the final.

I have taken to the pitch myself in the past, I even tried out for my university team and loved every minute of it – granted two weeks later I was in hospital with a trapped nerve in my neck… but it is all part of the game. I suppose that is why I like it so much, it’s real. You don’t see any amateur dramatics like you do in football, yellow cards earn the players ten minutes in the sin bin and if play stops, the clock stops, none of this extra time malarkey.

This no-fuss approach extends off the pitch as well, at rugby games opposing fans mingle together, while at football games fans are separated by seats, barriers and police. In short I think sport should be about bringing people together. It made me friends at university, as after my injury I became a weekly fixture on the sidelines, and few things beat watching a game with my family, whether it’s huddled for warmth in a stadium or shouting at the ref from our sitting room.