Rugby: A Sport Like No Other

By Tyler Gutwein, Staff

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For first time viewers of rugby, it may seem complicated and crazy that men would be willing to hit each other repeatedly with minimal protection. Brain meets brawn in a clash of size and speed. It may look like a mix of soccer and football and there is a good reason for that. Rugby was created at Rugby School in England when student William Webb Ellis decided to pick up the ball during a soccer match and run with it. This then invented the sport that many fans around the world enjoy. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) decided to ban professionals from rugby. That ban remained in place until 1995. The professionals decided to create a new code of rugby, known as rugby league. Simpler rules, easier tracking of scoring and being paid let league grow. The Americans eventually used the league style of rugby to create American football. The RFU style of rugby is known as rugby union and is the most popular form of rugby around the world. 

Rugby uses a ball that is bigger than a football and slightly more round. This allows teams to kick it easier as kicking is one of the most important ways to move the ball. The game starts with a kickoff. When catching the kick, teams tend to have players jump or be lifted into the air. The player who catches the ball may either run, pass, or kick. A pass must be backwards or directly laterally, any forward pass is not allowed. Seeing that forward passes are illegal, it makes sense that dropping the ball and it going forward is also illegal. A weird quirk in the rules means that the touching laws of soccer apply as well so you can chest, and head the ball forward all you want as long as no player has touched the ball with their hands or arms after a preceeding kick. 

The player runs into contact and is tackled by the defense, however play doesn’t stop. Members from both teams arrive at the tackle and fight over the ball for possession. This is known as a ruck and no player bound in the ruck may use their hands to gain possesion of the ball.  

In order to score, a player must touch the ball to the ground in the goal area. This is where football gets the phrase touchdown. Doing this scores a try worth five points. Then a kick may be attempted perpendicular to the spot of the try worth two points. 

Noah Richardson, senior, has played rugby for the last few seasons and thinks that the gameplay is something special that no other sport does. 

“Rugby is so special because it incorporates every good aspect of different sports and puts it all together into one. No two people on the rugby field are any different from each other and can both score and throw the ball,” Richarson said. 

Rugby is all about sportsmanship and respecting everyone involved. On the pitch, only the captain may speak with the match official and anyone else who criticizes the referee will be penalized. The referee is also known as the “sir” which is to reflect the respect that should be shown. After each match, the home team puts on a meal for all of the players to eat together and fraternize. 

The matches can be exciting and thrill inducing with a culture like no other. One of the most iconic traditions in rugby is the performance of New Zealand’s haka. The haka is a war dance that is meant to strike fear into the eyes of opponents. It may seem silly at first and you may even giggle after seeing it. However, I have stood in front of one before and trust me, you do not want to be facing someone who does that. It appears to be menacing, as this is how they show their force in numbers.  

Rugby has many more things about it that make it a unique and frankly amazing sport to watch. Clips are everywhere from YouTube to Flosports, to NBC and ESPN there are rugby videos that can show off the true nature of the game. And if you don’t have time to watch a full match, highlights can be found for the 2019 Rugby World Cup that was played in Japan. It will show key moments in a match and a few phases just so the average viewer can start to get a grasp of what is happening. This is one of the best ways to start viewing the matches.