Rugby : Crouch, bind, set!

As the saying goes, Football is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen.

The saying shows the irony of the fact that a rough and dangerous game like rugby was played by polite, well-educated “gentlemen” while the much safer and gentler game of football was played by tough, lower-class men with a reputation of violence. This old British saying still applies today, especially when we see football players swearing at referees and angrily influencing them when a decision goes against them. You will never see such behaviour in Rugby. Players accept referee’s decisions in any case and show a lot of respect for the game. It creates a funny picture when a 2 meters tall and 130 kilos player listens carefully to the warnings given by a skinny referee like a kid at school. Among many other aspects, this is why I love this game.

This sport was based on various ancestral games and its first set of rules was codified in a public school of Rugby, England in the middle of the 19th century. Nowadays, Rugby is mainly popular in United Kingdom, in former colonies of the British Empire, in France and in Italy. This sport remains quite unrevealed at the scale of the world mainly because of the complexity of its rules. Indeed, rugby is played both with hands and feet, you have several ways to score points, physical contacts are allowed, the ball is oval and you can pass it only backwards, and so on… It would be best to enumerate the specificities of rugby which make this sport unique.

First, in rugby there are no two half-times but three. We call the third half-time of the match the moment when both team meet up to eat, to redo the match, to have some drinks and sometimes (but more often than you think) to get drunk all together. Players have spent one hour wrestling, stepping on each other, fighting for the ball but the feeling of belonging to a big family is stronger. Once the match is over, any kind of anger, aggression or competitiveness disappears. And if you think that this habit exists only at the amateur level you’re wrong, third half-time takes place during international matches as well. Last but not least, rugby fans do the same! Can you imagine fans from both sides singing and drinking together after the match? Only rugby can gather people in such a cheerful atmosphere. 

Then, rugby promotes some outstanding values. I already mentioned respect to the referee but it goes further. The spirit of this game teaches you to respect your opponent as well. Rugby is really a tough game where you suffer physically and where you need a lot of humility toward the game to overcome your fears and to win the battle. The only way to achieve this is through respecting your opponent and giving him all the credit he deserves. In rugby, the notion of sacrifice is more relevant than in any other sport. You can’t avoid the physical clash with your opponent even if sometimes it’s going to be painful. The team is your first priority and you can’t let it down. All the players have this mind-set and know how much is needed to win. So, winners never forget to congratulate the defeated team with a standing ovation on the way to the locker room. Tell me in which sport have you ever seen something similar? I don’t know one.

Volounteer Centre Skopie

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