The Phony War – Getting to 80 Words

I took up the Harpin’ On Rugby 80 word challenge. I thought that the Phony War that is going on pre-Rugby World Cup, would make a fun topic. So here is the piece and the process I went through.

Normally with my writing, I write it and have a quick read through, but don’t have time for proper editing and also don’t have any constraints except time. So I though that writing to someone else’s constraints would be a fun exercise. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this format is used for match reports not opinion or feature pieces. So I was mis-using the format which was only going to make things more difficult. However I think that I’m a concise writer and so I wasn’t expecting there to be any issues keeping to 80 words. Here is my first attempt:

In the build up to the Rugby World Cup there is lots of excitement but not much going on. There are only so many ways to write that the All Blacks are favourites. The home countries have decided to take different approaches in this vacuum. Wales and England have “embraced the digital age” tweeting about how hard training has been. Ireland and Scotland have been much quieter. It’s all about building self belief for those tight moments. Exeter Chiefs have a pre-season training sessions, were they go to the beach. The players run until they drop. Then the coaches tell the players to get up. They find they can, this builds belief they can always go further and that the coaches are right. Schmidt is an expert at this and being able to tell players “do this and you will win”. Wales and England want the players to know they are fitter and will go further than their opponents. Which will win out? The phony war isn’t going tell us, we have to wait for the real one.

If you were counting you’ll notice that I was nowhere near the 80 limit and I had actually typed 178 words! Over double the amount I was allowed to use. So after an hour or so editing the below is the finished article that got published.

The home countries have decided to prepare for the Rugby World Cup differently. Wales and England have trumpeted how hard they’ve trained. Ireland and Scotland have been much quieter. It’s about building self belief for those tight moments. A Joe Schmidt strength is the ability to tell players “do this and you will win”. Wales and England are about belief that they can keep going longer. Which will win out? The phony war won’t tell us, the real one will.

So did I manage to get the message across in 80 words or did I really need those extra 98?

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3 Comments

  1. Nicely done. I have a self-imposed limit on each of my posts of 270 words (about the length of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address). It’s challenging to distill an idea down into a short paragraph, but it is rewarding, too, and sharpens the writing.

    Like

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