The Gentle Art of Rugby
To be honest, we are
football fans in the UK, and all that many of us know about rugby it
is that it is played with an oval ball rather than a round one.
Every few years however the England team achieves a few unexpected
victories against the Kiwis or the Aussies and all of the sudden
every true born Englishman is a rugby fan! Like fish and chips and
warm beer the sport is reputed to be one of the main gifts that
Britain bestowed upon the rest of the world after a player in a
football match at Rugby School in 1823 became a little over excited
(there's nothing new in the world), picked the ball up and ran with
it instead of kicking it. A certain section of society found the
prospect of rolling around in mud whilst kicking and gouging the
opponents to be more enjoyable than earning £100,000 a week for
tapping a shrunken beach ball around the pitch and diving
theatrically every time a member of the opposing team came near
enough to take the blame; and Rugby football was born.
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quickly spread to all corners of the civilised world, in other words
Australia South Africa and New Zealand, and eventually even the
French fell under the spell of this English substitute for unarmed
combat. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries one of the byproducts of the British Empire was the spread of English habits,
traditions, culinary expertise (!) And sports and now much of the
world plays rugby in one way or another, albeit that players from
some of the gentler countries protect themselves with crash helmets
and padded jackets before risking life and limb on a manicured lawn whilst those of
other more testosterone-fuelled nations whip themselves into a
frenzy with an ancient war dance before advancing forth to do
battle on a pitch as rocky as the Kalahari. As in football and
cricket we British are inevitable amazed when all these Johnny
Foreigners and colonials actually have the effrontery to not only
copy the games we invented, but actually beat us at them. Still, we
won the Football World Cup in 1966!
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