This weekend was the end of rugby season, and I think I would be leaving out a significant part of Tongan culture if I didn't dedicate at least one blog post to the topic.
Tongans love rugby. It is probably the equivalent of American football in most parts of the U.S., but only the parts with crazy, die-hard fans who paint their bodies for games and fall into deep depressions at the end of the season. Our entire school schedule was switched because of rugby practices, I've heard rugby mentioned in church sermons and we are having a huge feast for our rugby team next week. It's a big deal.
Anyway, I enjoyed rugby season here in Tonga. At the school games, the students do lots of fun cheers and it is a big social event. The village games are a great way to spend an afternoon on Saturdays after shopping at the market. I still don't appreicate everything about rugby (i.e. it can be very violent) nor do I understand all the finer points of the game (scrums are endlessly confusing), but I do appreciate the school spirit and community spirit the game brings to Tongan. Although the schools and villages have finished their seasons, the Rugby World Cup starts soon, where the whole country will be rooting for Tongan national team. You can be sure I will be cheering for the Ikale Tonga team too!