Two world championships were decided this weekend on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
In England, the Rugby World Cup was decided. In New York, the baseball season saw its final pitch.
More than 80,000 spectators watched New Zealand win the Rugby championship 34-17 over rival Australia. The match was held Saturday at the famous Twickenham Stadium near London.
It was the second-straight world title for New Zealand. Fans call the team All Blacks because of their black uniforms.
A day later, the baseball World Series came to a close with a win by the Kansas City Royals over the New York Mets. The game went into “extra innings,” similar to overtime in other sports.
In the World Series, the first team to win four games claims victory. The Royals won four of the first five games played with the Mets. Kansas City last won in 1985.
The Rugby World Cup opened September 18, when England defeated Fiji. Forty-eight matches and six weeks later, New Zealand won the title. Going into the tournament, the All Blacks were ranked No. 1 in the world.
The Associated Press news service called the two title runs by New Zealand “one of the most dominant eras in rugby history.”
Every tournament like this has a “favorite,” or the team expected to win. The tournament also has an “underdog,” or team less likely to win. But the underdog often becomes a sentimental favorite. It is a team to root for if you do not have another favorite.
This year in the Rugby World Cup, the “underdog” team was Japan.
Coming into the tournament, Japan was ranked 13th in the world.
But after an impressive showing in the group stage of the tournament, Japan moved up three places to 10th.
Aside from the championship game itself, the match that created the most buzz came when Japan defeated world No. 3 South Africa 34-32.
The Associated Press called it “the biggest shock in Rugby World Cup history.”
South Africa was a two-time World Cup champion. Japan had only ever won one match in the World Cup before that game.
Japan hoped to advance to the elimination stage of the tournament for the first time ever. But before the “Brave Blossoms” played their final game of the tournament, they were eliminated in a tie-breaker.
Rugby could become the hot sport in Japan. A record 25-million Japanese television viewers watched the team defeat Samoa on October 3.
In the baseball championships, the playoff tournament started with 10 teams in early October. Less than a month later, the Kansas City Royals were the winners.
The Royals were once one of baseball’s best teams. They made the playoffs seven times in 10 years, starting in 1976.
They won the World Series in 1985.
Ahead of the series, many experts expected the Mets pitchers to overpower the Royals hitters. But that was not the case.
Kansas City scored 27 runs in five games. Salvador Perez, the Royals’ Venezuelan catcher, was named most valuable player.
The Royals were trailing 2-0 for most of the decisive game. They scored twice in the top of the ninth inning to force extra innings.
Kansas City manager Ned Yost said he never had any doubt his team would find a way to win on Sunday night.
"And for us to go into the ninth inning down two, you know, it never entered my mind that we were gonna not going to score two, or three to take the lead at that point. For our guys to go out and find a way to score two at that point, we felt great. And we’ve said it all along: If we can tie the game late in the game, we love our bullpen. We feel like our bullpen is going to be able to hold the fort until we find a way to score. Again it’s just a team that never quits, never panics, they just find ways to win baseball games."
In an interesting scheduling quirk, the Royals and Mets will play each other to start next season. They face off on Opening Day, April 4, 2016.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Did you watch the Rugby World Cup or the World Series? What did you think? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
buzz – n. excited talk about something
tie-breaker – n. something (such as an extra period of play or an extra question) that is used to decide a winner when a game, contest, etc., has ended with a tied score
era – n. a period of time that is associated with a particular quality, event, person, etc.
quirk – n. something strange that happens by chance
score – v. to get points, goals, runs, etc., in a game or contest
sentimental – adj. based on, showing, or resulting from feelings or emotions rather than reason or thought
trailing – v. to be behind in a race or competition
underdog – n. a person, team, etc., that is expected to lose a contest or battle
championship – n. an important competition that decides which player or team is the best in a particular sport, game, etc.
spectator – n. a person who watches an event, show, game, activity, etc., often as part of an audience
tournament – n. a sports competition or series of contests that involves many players or teams and that usually continues for at least several days
elimination – n. the act or process of removing something or someone