The youngest players are under five years old. The oldest are over 50.
The game is rugby. The object is to score as many points as possible by carrying,
passing, kicking and grounding an oval ball into the scoring zone.
Rugby is played by men and women in over 100 countries around the world.
In some countries rugby is a national sport pursued with religious enthusiasm.
"It's a decision-making game," says player and coach Leana Marton. "If
you have the ball, you make decisions and quickly learn if you're wrong!"
A rugby team must field 15 people with no substitutions (except for injuries).
The oval ball -- slightly larger than a football -- can never be passed forward
or sideways. It can be carried or kicked ahead, or passed behind.
|Rugby is a popular game played by men and women in over 100 countries
of the world. This is a rugby scrum!|
|Courtesy of: Unofficial Repository of Rugby Information|
When a player runs past the goal line with a ball, it's called a try.
A try is worth five points and entitles the team to kick the ball through
the goal posts for another two. Drop kicking the ball through the goal posts
while in play is called a conversion. A conversion is worth three points.
After scoring, penalties, or at the start of the game, the ball is thrown
back into play at a line-out. The two teams line up across an imaginary
line, the opposing forwards jump for the ball. Infringements result in a penalty,
free kick or scrum.
In a scrum, opposing forwards bind together in a unit to push against other
forwards, trying to win the ball with their feet. Variations are rucks
-- not nearly as organized as a scrum, and mauls -- an interlocking
wall used by the offensive team.
Players with the ball can be tackled and held to the ground.
"I think at some level you have to like physical contact," says Kevin Corcoran,
a coach and former player for a Los Angeles rugby club.
So where did this dynamic game come from? Legend has it the game originated
at Rugby School (hence the name) in England. One of the pupils, William Webb
Ellis, picked up the ball during a game of soccer in 1823. It started a craze
in private schools and universities throughout the British Isles. In 1871,
the first international game was played between England and Scotland.
Rugby's popularity has been growing since the 1960s, especially on school
and college campuses. Men and women found rugby was a sport they could enjoy
without the rigid discipline that many sports of the time entailed.
Corcoran says a lot of money is coming into the game from television networks
that want to televise games. Rules are being modified to reduce downtime and
make rugby more of a spectator sport. Rugby's profile is changing too.
"In some areas...it has a reputation as a casual, party sport, where people
party and play the game, but it's really evolved a lot."
Marton expects that growth to continue because rugby doesn't cost a lot
to enjoy. "All you need are cleats and a mouth guard." Marton says second-hand
cleats -- a great idea if your feet are still growing -- cost about $30. She
says $100 will buy you a really good pair, which will last you a couple of
seasons. A mouth guard costs between $8 and $12.
If your team isn't sponsored, you may also have to buy your rugby jersey.
"The jerseys cost about $60," says Marton. "They'll last you your life!"
Rugby is a very physically demanding sport. Each half is 40 minutes. That
adds up to an 80-minute game. "And you're running the whole time," says Marton.
If you're not in shape, you're at risk for injury.
Theoretically, there is no professional rugby in North America, but the
game is evolving. Exceptional players who want to play professionally have
to travel to Britain, Europe or Australia, where rugby leagues offer players
Marton started playing rugby at university while getting a degree in physical
education. The game became part of her professional goals. She now teaches
for a living and coaches rugby on the side. "The opportunity is there to go
far in the field," she predicts.
Players with knowledge of the game -- and equipment -- can also find employment
with sporting good stores and suppliers.
If a scrum, maul, and ruck sound like just the things you need for excitement,
rugby may be the game for you!
Many high schools now offer boys' and girls' rugby. If your school doesn't
have rugby, Leana Marton (a teacher herself) suggests asking a favourite teacher
to ask around to find an ex-player who may want to coach.
Marton says a good way to find former players is through a rugby union.
Search online to find one near you. Another approach is through a local recreational
team. They often have community contacts.
If you want to join a rugby team or club, Kevin Corcoran suggests you shop
around. "Different clubs have different personalities," he explains. "So before
you join, look around!"
You'll want to choose a club with as much camaraderie and as little politics
as possible. "Most clubs will welcome you to come run with them," he explains.
Being invited to run with the team is as simple as calling up and asking!
There are local rugby associations and organizations all across North America
-- far too many to list! Do a little research and you're sure to find several
in your area.
Rugby originated in Britain, so it's not surprising that the governing
body of the game is in England. The IRB regulates the laws of the game.
International Rugby Board
Texas Rugby Union
The International Rugby Almanac
edited by Derek Wyatt and Nicholas Keith
The Rugby Union Fact Book
Total Rugby: Fifteen-Man Rugby for Coach and Player
Rugby -- Know the Sport
The Eagles -- USA Rugby's National Teams
Find out what's new with these elite players
The Laws of the Game of Rugby Union
All the rules you need to know!
Dan Cottrell's Better Rugby Coaching
Information on fitness, motivation, setting up a club, nutrition
and injury prevention