The event of the year kicks off today. The women's rugby World Cup starts with four matches in Wales, but the competition has not advanced this far without a slight problem or two. For example, they lost the entire Soviet squad. The players, who had already regretfully informed the organisers that they would be unable to pay for their own food and accommodation, failed to turn up on the expected aeroplane.
Their greeters were later told that they would be on a following flight. This was cancelled. For a while no one knew if they had arrived or not, or where they were. They finally showed up yesterday morning. A 15-seat mini-bus was there to take them away but unfortunately, only six of the squad were able to get into it. They are very big ladies indeed. One of them is 6ft 4in. Finally they were all squeezed into two mini-buses. At least we can now understand their problems with paying for their own food.
I hear hot news from the New Zealand squad. Naturally, they wanted to exploit the New Zealander's traditional psychological advantage by performing the haka before every game this being the Maori war dance. In the more straight-laced Maori circles, the idea of women performing a haka is as difficult to handle as the idea of women playing rugby is in other enclaves of tradition. Indeed two players in the New Zealand party, a Samoan and a Cook Islander, have been refused permission to perform the haka by their tribal leaders. But times change: and a Maori chief has given the other women full permission to haka their opponents into submission before every match.
Meanwhile, the Japanese side threatens to be the team of the tournament. It includes players who stand at four feet nine inches, and every player on the pitch wears a scrum-cap. Indeed, I have been told that the Tokyo Ladies team all play in pink scrum-caps. That's one for the All Blacks to copy.
History has been made in sumo wrestling. The annual spring grand sumo tournament featured an all-American bout at this, the highest level of the Japanese game of games. The wrestlers in question were both Hawaiian. Akebono, an up-and-coming star, took on the mighty 37-stone Konishiki. To put it another way, this was Chad Rowan against Salevaa Fuali Atisanoe. Akebono won, a big upset, for Konishiki is the highest ranked foreigner ever to wrestle sumo. ``It's like a dream come true,'' Akebono said.
"Dressing down has its appeal for blazer wearers; Sport." Times [London, England] 6 Apr. 1991.