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Thread: I Play Rugby

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    Champion Contributor Mtbeaver's Avatar
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    I Play Rugby

    I remember quite some time ago now, talk was going around of 'King Of The Kids" position. Someone came to the conclusion that the role would go to the 'Kid' who wrote and essay about rugby. I don't think there were any specifications other then it had to be about rugby.

    I don't care about the role but I did it. About 7 months later, but I did.

    Introduction

    I play rugby
    The profundity of this statement is often lost in a country that, for the most part, defines itself on sport and in a city that, for the most part, defines itself on Australian Rules football. Let me tell you that there is no other sport like it. Rugby isn’t just a sport. Ask any rugby player in the country, nay, ask any rugby player in the world, and they will tell you, with a knowing gleam in their eyes and a condescending smile on their face that it is a way of life.
    Before I go on I will tell you that there are two types of rugby in this world, rugby league and rugby union. They are as different as poker and show jumping. I won’t bother to go into the differences but know that I consider rugby league a vastly inferior sport and will make no reference to it in this paper. From this point on any reference to “rugby” should be read as “rugby union,” not “that dirty bastardisation that robs real rugby players of credibility.”
    One final point should be made to prevent confusion down the track. A forward is the 1st Eight of XV players whose primary role is to ensure the retention of the ball. It is not uncommon for a forward to go an entire game without laying hands on the ball. A back is the latter seven of the XV. These are the flashy showoffs who do a lot of the ball handling and scoring.
    Let me tell you a little more about my family. I am the youngest of three brothers and no sisters. My two brothers, my father and I all play and support rugby. From club to state level, the four of us have played, coached and been selected to represent at least eight different rugby clubs. My father was undoubtedly involved in many more before he immigrated to Perth from Brisbane, the heart of rugby in Australia. It is through him a love of the game was instilled in my family. He often jokes with my brothers and me that he would write us out of the will if we ever stopped playing. I quote an old English proverb when I say that many a true word is spoken in jest.
    I am an Australian. As part of my research I searched Google with the string “National Identity Sport.” Four of the top ten pages were ‘.au’ addresses. When I repeated this experiment in Wikipedia, “Sport in Australia,” was the fifth article down with a relativity of 93.8%. I did this because I wanted to prove how important sport was as a form of national identity and pride. I take a great deal of pride as an Australian and a member of a sporting organisation that I am a rugby player. Hopefully you are getting some idea of where I am coming from. Hopefully now the volume and scope of my passion is a little clearer.
    I play Rugby.

    Background

    Ask any rugby player the history of his sport and you will get one name. William Webb Ellis. While the stories all differ slightly they all center on this student of Rugby School in England catching a soccer ball during a game and running with it, sometime in the early nineteenth century. Delve a little deeper and you will find that historical evidence for this is somewhat lacking and many historians contend that, similar to Robin Hood, this is probably myth based on fact. Regardless of the exact origins, it is known that clubs began forming sometime between 1820 and 1840. Back then there was no official set of rules, just the rough sketch drawn up by Webb Ellis, so opposing captains would agree on a set of rules before the commencement of play. As referees were not always employed during this era, on field disputes were settles in a similar manner. It wasn’t until the Rugby Football Union was established in England that a universal set of laws started being adopted by teams. Many governing bodies, such as the Australian Rugby Board (ARB), began appearing after this, all serving a similar function of clarifying and unifying the often complex and convoluted laws of the game. Finally the International Rugby board (IRB) was recognised as the international governing body by most domestic rugby organisations increasingly during the 1990’s. It is around this time that we see the World Cup (or William Webb Ellis Cup, also known as ‘Bill’) was formed in 1987 and the game became officially became a professional sport in 1995. Before this even international representatives still did so in their spare time for no money.
    Changes to the style of play and the awarding of points has changed dramatically for several reasons For instance rugby balls, that were once made of leather, are now made of a synthetic material, have much better grip and weigh a fraction of the original leather design. This enables one to pass much further and, where previously players had to stand relatively close, has made the game much more expansive as far more of a parks width is now used. Points are now awarded to favor tries over kicking much more heavily now compared to past awarding. This is due to the developing game’s play style making the scoring of a try the ultimate feat. Minor changes in laws, to increase the safety of players, have also been introduced, such as new laws governing the engage of scrums.
    Rugby has certainly changed in the past two centuries and, while Webb Ellis probably wouldn’t recognise the modern game, he would certainly recognise the sportsmanship, rivalry, humor, chivalry and passion that he instilled in the game so long ago and has never been without since.

    Organisational Features

    Rugby is a sport that can be accessed anywhere in Perth no matter your age group, skill and level of fitness. All PSA schools and many other private schools will offer it as a sport. There are clubs scattered across all four points of the Perth compass who will happily take you on regardless of how late or early in the season you make yourself known. I take pride in my club always introducing themselves to new members on their first night of training and helping them with drills and other complex facets of the game if they don’t understand. Often while waiting for a lift home I will have older grade members or parents of my team mates offer me a lift. Rugby can be seen as a fairly exclusive sport of which you must have to have a deep understanding and have played from a young age to get into. This could not be further from the truth.
    Belonging to a team takes a lot of commitment, often between four of six hours of training in addition to a game on the weekend. Rugby boots and a mouth-guard are essential from the very beginning. A training kit of rugby shorts and a rugby top are also essential for training. Ordinary clothing will get torn very easily, so durable, purpose made clothing that you are willing to get stained is a must. Rugby is played in jerseys which will be provided on game day by the club on game day. Schools are usually a different matter requiring you to buy your own Jersey. A final piece of advice would be to never ever wear boxer shorts. Not only do you need good support while excercising, every club will have its own horror story regarding a lineout jumper who foolishly disregarded this advice. For those of you unfamiliar lineout jumpers are lifted into the air by two players to field the ball during a lineout. Lifted by their shorts.
    Decisions regarding the club are usually handles by a committee (President, Secretary, Treasurer etc.) Usually a club or school will have more than one team. Each team is assigned a manager and one or many coaches depending how specialised a team is. Generally speaking coaches and managers will receive guidance and instructions from the committee who will then pass this on to their players. Every week the coach, working with his captain and possibly other senior members will select a team based on training attendance, training effort, current form and injury. Coaches can get quite technical with selection trying out new combinations of players and bench cycles. Other times a player might injure himself and be replaced, only to find on recovery that he has lost his spot because the replacement had better match form or worked well with other players. This changes from club to club, some clubs will choose to reward players for loyally attending every session, others might play their best players regardless.

    Values

    That is rugby’s history to date, and where I come in. I started playing rugby when I was seven. These first few years of rugby are about developing the skills necessary to play without full contact. The first year is played contact free, with a player being required to pass the ball when tagged by the opposition. There is no kicking, certain positions are excluded and match time is only a fraction of the full eighty minutes. As I became older these modifications became less pronounced until I was in year eight by which time the only difference is the match time. I will never play a full eighty minute game as a teenager. Most sports in Australia these days the reason for this is to ensure a constant stream of players in all age groups. The growth of the sport is given very high priority by the Australian Rugby Board and a large part of this is protecting younger players from injury and easing them into what would otherwise be a very intimidating sport.
    I love the sport. It is the most physical and aggressive thing a man can be a part of and not get arrested. There is something about that sort of physicality and contact that forms fast friends with your team mates, a bond that certainly doesn’t exist in lower contact sports such as soccer or hockey. Paradoxically causing injury outside the law, throwing a punch for instance, is heavily frowned upon, and indeed, highly illegal, yet, at the same time, a bone jarring tackle is considered to be the height of skill and good form. I have had it remarked to me often by coaches that “they are your opposition, not your enemy.” No matter where you are or what age group you play with shaking hands with the opposition and giving them three cheers regardless of the outcome of the match is the rule, not the exception, as is clapping them from the field. This is not something that is taught, I just can’t remember a time when I haven’t done it.
    In contrast to soccer, the referee (never the umpire) is your god and their interpretations of the laws (never the rules) are your bible. Their decisions are never questioned and obeyed unswervingly. Arguing is guaranteed to be punished and a send off is never ever ignored. If a referee is uncertain of whether an
    infringement has occurred he may ask the player in question; lies are the cardinal sins. We make no apologies for feeling extremely smug and superior when exposed to the absurd notion that seems to be held by players of other codes that the blowing of a whistle signifies to opening of a forum of argument.
    Most of all, however, I love the culture that surrounds the game. I love the rivalry between forwards and backs, forwards do all the hard work, backs get all the glory. I love that anyone you meet at parties who also plays is instantly a friend. I love that a rugby team is one of the rare all male groups that feel completely comfortable singing at the top of their voices amongst each other. I love explaining the kicking rules to footballers who think they know but don’t. I love coming off the field and not recalling exactly what happened the last hour and a bit. I hate Soaks and their presumptuous, smarmy little motto; “Heart of Rugby in WA,” and I hate Soaks for their win at all costs attitude, I’m a rugby player I’ll have none of that thank you very much. I love that if you play rugby, you will know exactly what I’m talking about, you will agree with me and then you will then remind me that those damn All Blacks are exactly the same. I love that until you’ve experienced what I have, seen what I have, injured the parts of your body that I have and worked as hard as I have you are missing out big time and you don’t even realise it.

    Heroes

    Rugby, like any sport, has its heroes. Let me tell you of two. These players are heroes not just because of their success at the game but because they embody the values I so strongly believe makes rugby great.
    The first is All Black Jonah Lomu. You may have heard the name as he is one of the most well known players of all time. At 6ft5in and 119kgs I can quote that he is also one of the most intimidating players of all time.
    “Six Foot Five,” I hear you scoff.” There are much bigger forwards on the international scene!”
    Well Jonah Lomu was a back; the biggest back in All Black history to be precise. Furthermore he debuted at the age of nineteen also making him the youngest All Black in history. He still holds the record for World Cup Tries, fifteen in total over two world cups. Not surprising seeing as he is also one of the fastest players of all time. As a high school track star his training involved sprints dragging a lawnmower and his personal best is 10.89 seconds over 100m. I only hope can impress on you what a man that big moving that fast looks like so I am going to half joke; half seriously speculate that per kilo he is probably one of the fastest people in the history of the world. I’ll stick by my unproved theory until someone proves me wrong.
    However Jonah Lomu earned his hero status, not through his ability and physical prowess, but during the post-match of the All Blacks world cup semi-final shock defeat at the hands of France in 1999. Such was the extent of the upset defeat that the every All Black, without observing any of the post match customs discussed previously, quit the field in disgust.
    Every All Black bar one. Jonah Lomu who, despite every single one of his team mates hiding in shame in the change rooms and despite knowing it would probably be the last world cup he would ever play and was undoubtedly heartbroken, stayed on to shake every French hand and congratulate them on their surprise victory, a truly great man who that day humbled the entire rugby world and is, without question, a rugby hero.
    Talk of rugby heroes cannot go by without a mention of “John Eales,” considered to be the greatest Wallaby to have ever lived. John Eales’ nickname is nobody. Why? Because nobody’s perfect that’s why. I know that sounds like a joke but I can assure you it is the name given to him by fans and commentators. Early in his Wallabies career at the age of twenty one, John Eales saved a win against England by chasing down and tackling the English fly half who had made a line break and was looking to score a try.
    His coach would later comment “You tell me, how does a 6 foot 7 inch second-rower run down a fleet footed fly-half like Rob Andrew? As long as I live, I’ll never know.”
    His career was studded with many such highlights, including bringing “Bill” to Australia in 1999; the first and only time since rugby became a professional sport. This makes John Eales one of just five players to have ever won the rugby world cup more than once.
    Eales is eighth on the table of Australian test point scorers but as far as forwards are concerned he is the highest earner of international test points ever. He has amassed a staggeringly high score for a forward. To highlight this, Eales is one of two international forwards to ever score over 100 points. John Eales, all up, scored 173.
    His international tests as captain number 55, the second highest total in history.
    He is one of just 21 Queensland Red players with more than 100 caps for the team. During this time with the reds he became the highest scoring forward of all time another competition with no fewer than 402 points in the Super Rugby competition, the toughest provincial rugby competition in the world. For those not familiar with the sport this is yet another mind bogglingly high score for any player, let alone a forward.
    I personally have a lot of respect for him as a very hard yet very fair player and as a captain who didn’t just have the knack of getting in Referees’ ears but had the skills of a great leader. He was a forward with the ball skills of a back, a rare combination. One of these is his ability to kick, putting him in the very exclusive sub-set of both international kickers and forwards.

    Conclusion

    In your reading of this essay it you have probably discerned my stance on the organisation There are so many reasons for this, it keeps me very physically fit and strong, some of my best mates are through the game, I understand the game and derive enjoyment from watching high level matches and I feel that as a combination of these factors and the values instilled in me that I am generally a better person for having been involved. But most of all I just really, really like playing rugby.
    The only two physical ailments that will prevent me from playing are loss of the ability to walk and the loss of sight. Any other affliction will see me continue to play no matter my age. That an eighty year old can play, that an eighty year old would still want to play, I think, is a tribute to its charm and lifelong appeal. The thought that I will play rugby for many years to come makes me very happy and the thought that I am a member of such an organisation now makes me damn proud.

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  2. #2
    Champion Skiza's Avatar
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    That was awesome Beav!!
    Great to see you express your passion

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    Fantastic work Beaver
    Just a note, if you lose your ability to walk you can play on with the Black Ducks and, if you lose your sight, the blind have their own version of the code too...or you could become a Ref
    I hope there are plenty more of your generation who share your passion, well done mate.

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    Veteran Jess's Avatar
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    So much for asking me to edit your intro... hehe. Looks exactly the same to me.

    Beautiful work matty. I'm very proud of you for being so passionate.
    Keep up the good work and if you don't get a good mark for this then we'll go have a word to your teacher.

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    I made Happy sad...

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    Senior Player Contributor hopep's Avatar
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    Very nice littel essay Beaver.
    despite a few spelling & gramatical errors it reads fine.
    Well done

    I too recall the shock of a freind (a soccer man) when we clapped and cheered off the field a team who had hammered us all over the pitch. He still doesn't understand ... and never will until he plays.

    As they say in the classics "Done good son!"

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    Legend Contributor Flamethrower's Avatar
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    Posted via space



    Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

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    Immortal Contributor jono's Avatar
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    well written man.

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    Veteran Contributor LarryNJ's Avatar
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    Great Job Beav! All this time I thought you played because the chicks dig it!

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    I, like hopep delight in watching the confusion of the unwashed when we congratulate the others.

    The best moments were actually in the grandstand during Spirit matches, when tossers would rock up because tickets were cheap. The other team would come on and they'd start booing and carrying on, Everyone would frown at them and they'd sit down confused. Same thing with the refs, By the time Henners was on the field, they were so confused they didn't know what to do so would sit in stunned silence whilst the real fans went ABSOLUTELY APESHIT!

    Funny to watch!

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    C'mon the

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    Champion Contributor Mtbeaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jess View Post
    So much for asking me to edit your intro... hehe. Looks exactly the same to me.

    Beautiful work matty. I'm very proud of you for being so passionate.
    Keep up the good work and if you don't get a good mark for this then we'll go have a word to your teacher.
    Steve and I had a hard look at it, and knew where you were coming from. We decided that we shouldn't change it. For some reason... Can't quite remember why now though

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    great report its very intresting and with all the big words you should get good marks.

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    Good stuff Beaver, good to see the passion for the game lives on. I play rugby too..well, touch rugby anyway (I know, I know, its not RUGBY..but it is good fun).

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    Veteran Jess's Avatar
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    Look at those rep points now matty! Far from in the red.

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    I made Happy sad...

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    We can work on that if he asks again...

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    Champion Shaun's Avatar
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    Very nice essay Matt. This would have been for school I presume? That or you have too much time on your hands!

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    Every forwards dream is to become a back...

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