It may not be seen as too significant, but over the weekend two results caught the eye; one a surprising Aviva Premiership result, the other a lower-tier Test that although against the odds, will not have registered on too many radars.
The first was a rare loss for reigning European Champions Cup and Premiership holders Saracens against Harlequins. A strong rearguard effort and tries sweeping in from distance resigned Sarries to a 17-10 loss and Maro Itoje’s first defeat in a top-flight match he has started for his club or England an incredible run that lasted 31 games.
The other result on Saturday worth noting was Poland’s 22-0 walloping of Ukraine a side who were much higher than them in the world rankings. The opening win of the Rugby European Trophy meant that the Eastern European side climbed three places in the rankings to 34 in the world, while Ukraine fell from 27 to 28.
Why bring both of these up in the same breath? Because rugby fans love an upset. There is something about the underdog snarling their way to victory that gets us excited.
We will talk about Japan’s 2015 Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa for as long as we live. We shook our heads, chuckled and said, “They’ve done it again!” when Japan’s men’s sevens pulled off a shock win over their New Zealand counterparts in the recent Olympic games. In that same tournament an unfancied Team GB got all the way to a silver medal. And how often will we hear of Connacht’s wonderful rush to the Guinness Pro12 title last season? It was a trophy success lovingly compared to Leicester City’s stunning title grab in the English Premier League soccer – and one which would have made you a fair windfall had you used the best rugby union betting tips.
Of course these upsets don’t always go in your favour. Wales fans still cringe whenever their side draw a Pacific Islands nation in the World Cup, harking back in pain to 1991’s 16-13 loss to (Western) Samoa, 38-31 loss to the same side four years later or 2007’s 38-34 loss to Fiji.
We look set for another season of ups and downs. We may not see Connacht double up in the Pro12, but maybe La Rochelle can cling on to first place in France’s Top 14? Scarlets may be the only Welsh side in this season’s Champions Cup, but can their incredibly talented back-line come alive or can the other three sides take inspiration from the Dragons’ surprising 23-21 won over Gloucester in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup last year, with maybe one of them lifting the trophy?
You may be lucky enough to tell when the next upset is coming from, but guaranteed there will be one somewhere and you can bet the rest of us will find ourselves involuntarily revelling in the result as well.