During many sporting tournaments eager fans are given the opportunity to join fantasy leagues. These all tend to work in a similar way: you select a fantasy team filled with players drawn from many real teams, and then your fantasy team receives points depending on the performance of those players throughout the tournament.

To join a RWC fantasy league would have required me to have a knowledge of the relative talents of players in teams that I just don’t care much about, so I decided not to bother with anything like that. Instead, I’m going to run my own private fantasy team challenge throughout the Rugby World Cup.

We’re often told that attractive people have a better life: they’re treated well by everybody; they get paid more than unattractive people; they get promotions more easily… basically, you’ve won the lottery of life if you look good. My RWC fantasy team challenge will test this theory: I’m going to pitch a team of hot rugby players against a team of fugly rugby players, and see who wins. My selections will have absolutely nothing to do with the players’ ability and everything to do with their appearance.

You’d think that this kind of team selection would be fairly easy, but it some cases it was a struggle. It’s nigh-on impossible to find a really handsome front-row forward, for example, so the three players in the front of my hot player team’s scrum are average at best. Similarly, it’s difficult to find truely unattractive wingers, so the speedy guys on my unattractive team are probably only average, at worst. Of course, other selections were very straightforward. You won’t be surprised to hear that Richard Kahui was the first player on my pretty-boy roster.

Believe me when I tell you that the selection process was fraught with difficulty. I decided that I would only be able to select one player from each national side for either of my teams. This was mainly because some national teams could have single-handedly provided me with an entire fantasy team, and I didn’t want to be accused of unfairly favouring one nationality, or writing off another nationality as a bunch of mingers.

There’s also a risk management element in my multi-national selection policy: I didn’t want to have two teams play each other and find that, between them, they accounted for one of my fantasy teams, limiting the amount of points I could claim. And stretching my selections across a broad range of national teams has made it even more interesting to watch games between RWC minnows and, in the case of my hot fantasy team, has raised my awareness of some fine, fine men.

The multi-national selection policy has led to some difficult exclusions, particularly when one gorgeous or hideous player has been left out because another gorgeous or hideous player from his team has already made the cut.

My scoring system is simple:

  • Fantasy rugby player in his nation’s starting XV for a RWC game = two points
  • Fantasy rugby player on his nation’s bench for a RWC game = one point
  • Fantasy rugby player scores a try in a RWC game = one point per try scored
  • Fantasy rugby player is yellow-carded during a RWC game = one point subtracted from fantasy score
  • Fantasy rugby player is red-carded during a RWC game = three points subtracted from fantasy score

I’ve also selected a coach for each team, so these two guys will score a point if their national team wins a game.

In my next two posts I’ll introduce my teams: the Handsome XV and the Unfortunate XV. And then I’ll do the scoring from the first round of RWC games.

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