I’ll Take the Low Road: A Rambling of a Newly-Found Rugger

Tonight was my first real venture into a new world. That’s fancy talk for saying that my first real rugby practice was tonight. It was insane. I love this damned game, and right now, I haven’t even really played. It’s confusing as f**k, but dammit, I still want to play. It’s so worth anything that comes from it right now. I’m sorry, I’m almost speechless from how great I feel. I guess I’ll start by schooling the uninitiated in the basics.

Basically, rugby is the only manly and successful member of the football line (that I care about, at least). Basic history is some guys were playing football in England back in the early 1800s, and one, who has this engraved on his tombstone, picked up that ball and ran with it, thus making rugby. It grew into one of the most popular sports in the world, with the Rugby World Cup second in views globally only to the Football World Cup (America needs to jump on the band-wagon). When it came to America, it was played quite well, but as Americans became fat, they slowly morphed rugby into gridiron, which is the NFL. So, in a nutshell, rugby is the successful, manly, healthy son of a popular wuss (aka hipster) and was unfortunate enough to create a fat son that is really only popular because Americans have to be different from the rest of the world (aka, a redneck). It’s if Teddy Roosevelt were the son of a Frenchman and the father of Bubba from Mississippi. You know what he thinks of that? F**k ’em, we’ll play rugby anyway.

So rugby is a continuous game like football, but a contact game like gridiron. The goal is to get the ball from one end to another so your team can score by “touching the ball on or past the try line with force” so that you can score a try or kicking it through the uprights so you can score that way. There are sixteen people on each team, and though each has a specified job during the scrum, in open play, anybody can do anything, including score, run with, pass, and kick the ball. The ball can be kicked at any time in any direction, but it can only be thrown backwards (technically it can be thrown laterally, but that’s a really dicey call that some refs could call a forward pass). Once the play with the ball is tackled, there is a small fight for possession, called a ruck, and a maul is essentially a standing ruck (from my understanding, though I don’t have a grasp on the finer points). Once the winner is determined (by who got the ball) it is thrown out of the ruck and play continues. If there is a foul, the teams scrum (which is similar to the O-line and D-line smashing in gridiron at the beginning of every play) which is pictured below. Further, if the ball goes into touch (or out of bounds for us Americans) the ball can be thrown in via line-out, which is where the teams toss a few players into the air in an attempt to gain possession of a ball thrown into play from the touch line.

So, in a nutshell, it’s the endurance of a footballer; speed of a sprinter; passing, running, and catching skills of a quarterback and half-back; the physicality of gridiron; and the brutality of combat sports.

All without pads and substitutions only allowed for a bleeding injury.

And the occasional Zulu, just because they don’t have enough fun with it as it is.

I mean, it’s hard to imagine that they can enjoy this, right?

I guess you just have to try it to get it (HAHAHA, PUN!)

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