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Rugby Basics ~ From an American!

I really want to love rugby. It can make American football, which I love, look simply static. Or, it can be so incredibly boring and stupid the game should be banned.

This weekend’s games were really pretty good. England and Wales, France and Scotland all played well and put on a good show. Often, but not always, I begin a game rooting for a particular team even though I have no home grown loyalty to any of them. For example, during the Saturday match between England and Wales I was rooting for Wales (mainly because I have a good friend who is a proud Welshman and I know what a win over the great oppressor means to him). And on Sunday, for some unknown reason, I was rooting for France over Scotland (that was, I know, heretical and I can’t explain myself). I do have one hard never changing rule, however, which overrides all other concerns when choosing which team to favour. The rule is this:

I want the team that kicks the ball the least to win.

Actually, I want the team that kicks the ball the least to destroy, devastate, humiliate the other team. I realise that the kicking came can be important, but it often seems self-defeating and plan stupid. During some games it is as if both teams are shouting: Here, take the ball! We don’t want it! We don’t’ want to try and score  points! Here, you try! I was watching a match once where the following actually happened: The Irish were winning by two points, had possession of the ball with sixty seconds to play. They kicked the ball their opponents (!) who proceeded to run up the field, win a penalty, kicked the ball through the uprights and win the game by one point. I was thrilled. The Irish were stupid. It is stupid to hand the ball to your opponent when you are about to win the game.

And one more thing. Let’s be honest, kicking an odd shaped ball to you teammate with your foot is not as easy as throwing it with your hands. I can’t count the number of times a team was practically falling over the touch-line only to try a kick-pass which went out of touch, beyond the end zone or into the hands of the opposing team. It’s enough to drive you crazy (though, when it does work it’s a thrill to watch).

So, I thought I would offer five basic principles about team sports played with a ball.

1. If you have possession of the ball, you can score points.

2. If you do not have possession of the ball, you cannot score points.

3. If the opposing team has possession of the ball, it can score points.

4. If the opposing team does not have possession of the ball, it cannot score points.

And number 5, the most important reality of all:

The team with the most points at the end of the game wins!

I sincerely hope that my five basic principles have been helpful to all rugby teams. Feel free to use these basic points during your team talk.

(Damn Americans!)

Copyright © 2012 Dale Rominger

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