The Gentle Art of Rugby Football

Beginnings  International Rugby   World Cup

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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The game 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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