June 21, 2011
Gentlemen That Maul
In the UK and Ireland, an old saying goes, ‘Rugby is a game for barbarians played by gentlemen. Football is a game for gentlemen played by barbarians.’
A game of rugby football developed from a version of English football played at Rugby School and was originally one of several versions of football played at English public schools in the 19th century. The legend goes to say that students were playing football when they’re ball popped, and one of the players picked it up and ran with it. Rules were added as the game progressed, and it was at Rugby School in the late 19th century when the first set of written rules was conceived; thus its name ‘rugby’.
Most rugby seasons in the US take place February through May, but will vary around the globe. That being said, the season is over and with no shot of an observational visit I invited my friend Patrick over to tell me more about one of the most obscure and hostile sports I know of (obscurity and confusion only second to cricket). A veteran player of six years walks through my door looking like the stereotype of what a ‘rugger’ would be. A scruffy, rugged face, stocky body clearly put together for inflicting harm. Meaty arms and legs, littered with tattoos to add to the already intimidating construction built to run another man over or pull him from the air. Patrick takes a seat on my couch, motorcycle helmet in his lap, and answers, “Almost anything goes in this sport,” he tells me as he rolls up a sleeve to flaunt a family coat of arms tattooed on his own fore arm, “I’ve seen so many guys give and take some brutal beatings in the scrums.” From an outsider’s point of view, a scrum looks like the packs of opposing players are huddled together. They’re supposed to be pushing against each other for possession of the ball, but in reality, inside the scrum these rambunctious hooligans will maul and stomp on their competition not only for... [continues]
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