Rugby? What on Earth is that?
We Brits love rugby. Don’t let people tell you football is our national sport; any decent person will tell you that our hearts belong to the wonderful sport of rugby. Since I began living abroad, I have had to come to terms with the fact that a lot of people outside of the English-speaking world have never even heard of rugby, let alone watch it, play it or understand it. This is something that definitely needs changing, especially as England hosts the Rugby World Cup this autumn.
Rugby is said to have been invented in 1823 at a school called Rugby School, in a town called (you guessed it) Rugby. A young boy named William Webb Ellis decided the rules of football needed livening up, so he picked up the ball and ran with it. The other rules followed on from that.
These rules are complicated and practically never-ending; I’ll own up to not knowing all of them. Here are the basics: 2 teams of 15 people aim to ground the oval-shaped ball on the other team’s try line or into their in-goal area as many times as possible throughout the 80 minute match. You can run with the ball, but can only pass it backwards. Rugby is a contact sport, meaning the players can tackle one another for the ball, so long as it’s below the shoulders. Some of the players are there to run fast, others are there to do the tackling.
If the ball goes offside, then play is restarted with something called a lineout. Members of each team get into two lines and the ball is thrown to them, where players are often lifted to catch it. Scrums, which look like a load of people pushing each other (largely because that’s what they are), take place when somebody breaks one of the rules. To top it off, there are goal posts to kick the ball through; used for penalties and after a team scores a try. A try is worth five points, with a successful kick afterwards (a conversion) being worth an extra two. Any other kick through the goalposts is worth three points.
See, it’s not so hard, right? (I’m joking by the way, I know it’s unnecessarily complicated, but that’s just the British way of doing things I’m afraid.)
Give rugby a go. It really is one of the most exciting sports out there!