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My (in)glorious rugby career - and some reflections on the 6 Nations Championship

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 01:12:34 PM EST

Tomorrow sees the start of the annual Six Nations Rugby Championship in Europe - regarded by many as the best annual Rugby competition in the world.  This diary begins by chronicling my exciting career as a rugby player, continues with a short exposition of some of the political geography of the game, and finally indulges in the armchair fan's favourite pastime - speculating on who will win this years tournament - France (heroic conquerors of New Zealand in the World Cup), England (World Cup Finalists), Scotland (quarter finalists), Wales, Italy and, of course Ireland - my home team - who had a dismal World Cup.

My rugby career began as a frail and very light 11 year old thrust into the brutalities of 1960's boarding school life.  Rugby seemed to me to be a glorious opportunity for older, bigger, and stronger boys to bully guys like me in an officially sanctioned and organised way.  Worse, it was a great opportunity for those boys with greater social skills to gang up on the loners like me.  To cap it all Rugby was compulsory, so there was no escape into the gentler joys of agonising cross country running through mud, rain sleet and snow.

My one saving grace was that I was quite a fast sprinter over short distances - an attribute that had often gotten me out of the numerous scrapes that my somewhat sarcastic wit and acerbic tongue had gotten me into with bigger but slower school "mates".  However, there was always the real fear that I would get caught up in a ruck or maul where those I had offended could practice their black arts on my prone body out of sight of the often witless coach/referee.


One such "coach" was anything but witless.  He was a thoroughly nasty piece of work who ruled by fear rather than respect.  During one practice match I finally got my chance to make my mark. I was given the ball in a bit of space and set off on a mazy run utilising all the speed that naked fear can instil in you.  The try line beckoned when the "coach/referee" stuck out a leg and tripped me up causing me to spill the ball.  My chance of rugby stardom and the respect it would have engendered in my peers was gone.  That was the last time I played rugby in school and no amount of "compulsory" rules were going to make any difference.  I satisfied the demands of the sporting ethos of the school by becoming the no. 1 table tennis player and playing some hockey (badly).  It was little consolation to me that the said "coach" later became an international Rugby Referee whose career was cut short by some rather inept refereeing performances.

My next encounter with the Gods of Rugby was even more humiliating, but this time the misfortune was entirely self-imposed.  As Captain of my College Table Tennis team I was invited to take part in a "celebrity" mixed tip rugby match on the main pitch in Trinity College in the centre of Dublin as part of the annual "Fresher's Week" celebrations. The "mixed" refers to the fact that girls were also selected, and the "tip" meant that you could only tip a player (who then had to pass the ball immediately) rather than engage in a full blooded tackle. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun and a very good idea at the time.

A crowd of what seemed like thousands of people gathered to watch the novelty of girls (albeit serious athletes in many cases) playing on the same pitch as serious rugby players two of whom were Irish internationals at the time - the 2 metre behemoths Michael Gibson and Donal Spring - the latter a brother of a future Tanaiste (Deputy Irish Prime Minister) and now a distinguished solicitor.  Very early on in the match my pride and curiosity got the better of me.  I knew that Donal Spring was 10 times stronger than me, but was he as fast over a short distance?  Given he was the star player on the opposing team I set about chasing him the moment he got the ball.  After all I only had to tip him, not tackle him, so his strength and size were largely irrelevant.  Once again, Rugby glory beckoned!

Unfortunately, I had failed to warm up properly before the match (the warm up may have consisted of a couple of pints) and I pulled both my hamstrings in the sudden effort and acceleration of trying to catch Donal Spring.  He never even knew that I had targeted him.  There were no substitutes available, so I spent the rest of the match hobbling around with girls running rings around me to the boisterous cheers of the enormous crowd.  That kind of experience can scar a man for life!  Girls (mainly my own daughters) have been running rings around me ever since.

So why am I now (albeit an armchair) rugby fan?  Firstly, the game has cleaned up its act a lot.  The quality of refereeing, respect for player safety, the skill levels, and the attractiveness of the game as a spectator sport have all increased dramatically since the game went professional.  Gone are the endless mud baths of rucks and mauls, the "bite, boot and bollocks" of egregiously violent behaviour, the blatantly biased "home town" refereeing, and the appallingly snobbish behaviour of the "blazers" who ran the game  (famously referred to by former England Captain Will Carling as "50 old farts").

There are still problems, of course.  Argentina (World Cup Semi-finalists) struggle to gain any meaningful competition outside of the quadrennial World Cup because they are excluded from the only two meaningful annual international tournaments (The European Six Nations) and the Southern Hemisphere Tri-nations (New Zealand, Australia and South Africa).  The Pacific Islands struggle likewise and most of their best players end up playing in, and for, the New Zealand All Blacks.  Rugby isn't really a world game like Soccer or Golf, but it is beginning to catch up with them in terms of global appeal, and the Rugby World Cup ranks third behind the Soccer World Cup and the Olympics as the biggest sporting occasions in terms of spectator and TV viewer numbers.

So what is its appeal?  The rules are almost incomprehensible to the non-aficionados and match officials constantly make mistakes because so much is happening on the pitch and there are so many rules which can be infringed by teams playing at the very edge of the law.  Part of it is the extraordinary ferocity of the exchanges between players who have almost no protective clothing when compared to American football.  Part of it is the extraordinary level of self discipline which must be exercised by players when they end up on the wrong end of a boot or even a mistaken refereeing decision.  Sometimes decisions are so marginal even slow motion TV action replays don't offer conclusive evidence one way or the other.  Also you see none of the play acting and false writhing on the ground by "injured" Soccer payers trying to get opponents sent off for foul play and who promptly stage a miraculous recovery moments later.  Part of it is the sublime ball handling and running skills allied to the huge strength and stamina required to play the game for the full 80 minutes.  Above all, because it is a team game with no room for the prima donnas who appear to infest other sports.

The physical nature of the game means it is all about motivation and hunger.  About a players willingness to go through the pain barriers of physical effort and endurance.  Frequently, a lesser talented but better motivated team can still win.  There is an unpredictability to the outcome of many games which baffles even the great experts in the game.  All in all it can be a superb TV spectacle when compared to Soccer (often a boring midfield morasses with few goals or even genuine efforts on goal), Golf (a waste of a good walk), Formula One racing (one overtaking manoeuvre per race counts as a very exciting race), Athletics (one race looks very much like the next and who knows who is on drugs anyway), Swimming (ditto), or Cricket, American Football or Baseball (what on earth are they all about?).

Rugby can also have enormous social significance.  In Ireland, it has remained almost the sole major sport played on a 32 county basis (embracing both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, Unionist and Nationalist - and thus a very important source of reconciliation and social cohesion during the dark and troubled times.  In Munster, it is the symbol of a regional identity that cuts across class and social divides.  In South Africa, despite being a predominantly white sport, it became a national symbol of reconciliation, and renaissance in post Apartheid Society when Nelson Mandela put a Springbok jersey on and embraced his World Cup winning team.  Although professionalism has brought with it an increasing commercialisation and a divide between rich and poor Rugby playing nations, rugby has retained much of its community spirit, conviviality and sociability, with trouble between opposing fans a rarity, and mutual respect and boisterous rivalry the norm.

Now that I have pinned my colours to the mast (and offended just about every other sports fan) what can the casual viewer expect from the Six Nations contest starting tomorrow?  France and England, the two giants of the European game in terms of finance and playing numbers have made a lot of changes to their squads since the World Cup only three months ago.  They have great strength in depth, but could still struggle to develop the teamwork that only playing together for a few matches can really engender.  

Ireland, as usual, are at the opposite extreme, making only 3 changes (due to injury and retirement) to our team to face Italy - partly due to the innate conservatism of our coach, but also because of our much smaller playing numbers and strength in depth.  It is sometimes said that it is harder to get off the Irish team than to get on it!  Nevertheless, the team has a lot of experience and talent and a big incentive to make up for their very poor World Cup performance.  Despite the fact that they play both France and England away in Paris and Twickenham, they are my "dark horse" tip for the title in what is admittedly a very open contest.  

Wales have picked 13 out of their 15 starting players from one club - the Ospreys - so teamwork shouldn't be a problem, and I would fancy them to give a much changed England team a hard time.  Scotland have been the poor relations of European rugby in recent years, but have made real progress under coach Frank Hadden and now have strength in depth in a number of positions.  However you can only have 15 players on the pitch at any one time, and one must question whether their team has enough players of real class.  They could however upset the much changed French team in Edinburgh.

Italy have done well in recent seasons (winning 2 championship matches for the first time last year), but shouldn't be good enough to beat Ireland at Croke Park - a magnificent 80,000 seat stadium and historic centre of Gaelic Games in Dublin.  Long the bastion of Irish Nationalism, the Gaelic Athletic Association made their stadium available to the Rugby Union whilst the latter is building a new stadium in Lansdowne Road (the oldest International Rugby venue in the World).  

The match, this time last year, when Ireland played England in Croke Park was an emotive moment in Irish Nationalism.  The last time England had entered the stadium was on "Bloody Sunday" in 1920 when British Army Auxiliary forces entered the stadium during a Gaelic Football match, went onto the pitch and fired into the crowd killing 14 civilians including one of the players - apparently in retaliation for the killing of 14  British agents by the IRA as part of the Irish war of Independence. The occupation of some GAA club grounds in Northern Ireland by the British army during the Troubles  kept that resentment simmering in some nationalist circles, and it was a difficult decision for the GAA to make their Ground available to a rival sport particularly as it would involve matches against England.  In many ways that match signalled the ultimate triumph of the Peace Process, because the crowd behaviour was impeccable and English fans were treated with genuine conviviality and respect.  

That defeat by Ireland at Croke Park by 43 points to 13 marked England's worst ever result in the history of the tournament, both in number of points conceded and in points difference (30 points).  However Rugby is a very unpredictable game.  Even a one point victory by Ireland over England in Twickenham this year would be very welcome - and who knows - it could signal Ireland's first ever win in the 6 nations Championship.

Poll
Who is going to win the Six Nation Championship?
. France 46%
. England 0%
. Scotland 0%
. Wales 15%
. Ireland 7%
. Italy 0%
. The Alcohlic drinks industry 30%

Votes: 13
Results | Other Polls
Display:
I was obliged to play rugby at school for 4 inglorious years. I can honestly say I no more understood what the game was about or what the rules were when I finished than when I started. It made no sense to my young mind, and this slightly older one thinks that the rules are completely arbitrary.

If, as you say, there are so many technical infringements going on at the same time, then a referees decision is entirely arbitrary rather than just and the game is a lottery. I had always suspected as much.

Later I played one more game and my one memory is being utterly flattened by an onrushing Steve Landin (Lander ?) who, like your coach, went on to be an international referee.

I have always referred to it as a kicking & bundle game. the ball is either buried under a mass of players for minutes at a time going nowhere, or it's being kicked into touch or over the posts. Where's this running and passing everybody else goes on about ?

finally, I am often amused by the disdain of rugby afficianados for proper football. As if you can prove one or other group is wrong, but I must admit, that having seen numerous serious punches thrown in rugby that, if in football, would have engendered screaming headlines in the press and even television, I'd rather have the more effete sport.

enjoy your sport Frank. But I'll give it a miss thanks.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 01:44:56 PM EST
Making something compulsory at school, especially something like Rugby which is really only suitable to be played by the few, must be one of the greatest abuses of the human rights and dignity of the young.  It can be very abusive, even if, properly coached and managed, it can also instill great self-discipline, "character", leadership and physical fitness in those who enjoy it.

A good refereeing team see most of what is going on and any minor injustices tend to even themselves up in the course of the game.  It doesn't prevent players "playing" the referee to the limit, and an incompetent official can really mess things up resulting in flair-ups and unjust results.  It just seems to happen less often now than it used to.

However I wouldn't let my kids play the game unless I was pretty sure the coaching and refereeing was of a high quality.  There is an issue of player safety involved.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 01:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"or Cricket, American Football or Baseball (what on earth are they all about?"

Call yourself a sports fan?
Educate yourself first!
Rugby must be the most arcane and brutal sport of all.

by Mordecai on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 02:18:48 PM EST
In Ireland we say that Rugby is a bogman's game played by gentlemen, soccer is a gentleman's game played by bogmen, and Gaelic football is a bogman's game played by bogmen!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 02:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what, pray, is hurling?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 02:32:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hurling is not sport, as von Clausewitz noted, it is war carried on by other means.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 02:42:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurling is what you do after downing a few to many pints during the rugby game, I believe.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 02:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As our resident hurling expert, you should know ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 03:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurling ia an awesomely skillful game played (in a major way)in less than a dozen Irish counties but inspiring huge loyalty in those who do.  If you can imagine an extremely fast aerial three dimensional game of hockey where you are trying to catch a small hard ball flying extremely fast through the air on the end of your stick you can imagine just how good your hand eye coordination has to be.  It also requires great discipline and self preservation skills as people are wielding their hurleys   in close proximity to each other, and yet serious injuries are remarkably rare.  It's not the best TV game as the ball can be hard to spot on a small screen and its a pity it is played in such a small range of places.  A sport nowadays needs an international or commercial dimension to really thrive.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 04:00:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what about Soule ?

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 11:25:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there bogmen in France?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 11:28:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh, eh... Of course there are some, deep in the wilderness of some of our nice regions :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 07:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
margouillat:
Eh, eh... Of course there are some, deep in the wilderness of some of our nice regions :-)

That sounds like a ruralist comment to me.  I thought all the bogmen in France drove Taxis in Paris?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 04:10:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no... The taxi drivers are a mix of dropped-out senior businessmen and of younger yet-to-be businessmen...!

There's no true ruralist in France (apart from some politicians) as we are almost all from there, first second and third generation migrants (mostly for studies at first, then for jobs)!

It wasn't supposed to be a pejorative phrase, but more about the fact that old games are lost because young people migrate to the city... And maybe a bad translation of bogmen (didn't found any in my dictionary) !

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 12:15:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
four years of compulsory school rugby, playing in the most rediculous weather (once in freezing fog so thick you could only see the next player about three metres away, and the occasional ball flew passed and vanished in the fog).

I'm now an Englishman living in the heart of Wales, so  this Saturday is an avoid the pub day.

Cricket and American Football are mental games, but Baseball I just find incredibly dull.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 03:09:27 PM EST
I love the Six Nations.  Proper Welsh girl, me (not my fault I was born in England).

Like Frank said about how Rugby gave some social cohesion to Ireland, the sense of shared pride in 'Our Boys' is integral to the spirit of Wales.  I'd far rather be in the pub when a rugby match is on than when there is football.  

Living just up the road from the stadium, the feel of the crowds is so different.  Rugby fans stay friendly, the footballers fight. I'm off to town soon, to watch the rugby with my friends. I've been looking forward to it for weeks!!

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 08:26:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My rugby career began as a frail and very light 11 year old thrust into the brutalities of 1960's boarding school life.  Rugby seemed to me to be a glorious opportunity for older, bigger, and stronger boys to bully guys like me in an officially sanctioned and organised way.  Worse, it was a great opportunity for those boys with greater social skills to gang up on the loners like me.  To cap it all Rugby was compulsory, so there was no escape into the gentler joys of agonising cross country running through mud, rain sleet and snow

Only two things separate us here, Frank. My school wasn't a boarding school. And both rugby and cross-country were obligatory. In the particular ethos of the school, moral significance was attached to these two sports more than any other. Slabbering around in the mud to the bitter end was proof of moral fibre. Needless to say... (I won't go on).

Our rugby master was a reserve scrum half for Leicester Tigers (that's a third difference, this was in England). He taught at least half of us to hate the game. The big lads were the ones he liked. A very English mixture there of repressed homosexuality and sadism. No touch (tip) rugby for us, real men tackle hard. He picked sides, and it would be his XV against the lightweights, the fatties, the girlies, and the freaks. It's amazing how quickly the lightweights, the fatties, the girlies, and the freaks used to lie down with their face in the mud and give up.

That was the hopeless reality of my practice of this sport (and I never tried again later). Yet the rugby myth remained untouched in my mind. A Welsh-family myth, my Da telling me about the Arms Park and the singing, the boys in the Valleys who played on cinder pitches, his Uncle Bill who always had tickets for every Cardiff game, and there was the Triple Crown and the wooden spoon, but the main aim in life (apart from religion) was beating England at the Arms Park. I obviously wasn't going to be the miracle fly half who would help Wales do that, but there was a whole world there that the mudbaths didn't destroy.

So, long story short, I like to follow the Six Nations (on TV). I think there's no more exciting sport to watch (bar some bad ultra-defensive games in the last World Cup). I support Wales. Er, and France. I've been living in rugby country here for years. Fabien Pelous comes from up the road. So: I support Wales against all comers and especially England, France against all comers and especially England.

Wales v France? May the best side win.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 03:28:54 PM EST
I've often wondered whether my enjoyment of watching Rugby is evidence of the stockholm syndrome at work....

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 04:36:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I too did the rugby bit at school until about 16 and spent most of the time avoiding serious injury, having observed the results of following the coach's remonstrations to 'tackle 'im low, boy'.

But I did follow the Tigers when I lived in Leicester.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 03:31:46 PM EST
One thing that must be said is that the excitement for Wales, Scotland and Ireland playing the 6 nation cup is really about beating England first and foremost.

Frank says "The match, this time last year, when Ireland played England in Croke Park was an emotive moment in Irish Nationalism." but I say 'emotivity' is constant, it's just gobsmackingly palpable not only in the Irish, but also in the Scots or in the Welsh every time their teams play the English team.

As an Englishman, I find the whole thing amusing.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 04:15:16 PM EST
Beating the brits (English)is always fun because some of them can be a bit bumptious, but don't overestimate yourselves -  winning against the odds against France is just as much fun.  Anyway beating England has lost its rarity value :-)

Last year in Croke Park was TOTALLY different.  It marked the end of a long and tortuous process of disengaging Irish nationalism from a hatred of what the "Brits have done to us".  It had NOTHING to do with Rugby per se, and everything to do with defining ourselves on our own terms and not in relation to our colonial history and the remaining tensions in Northern Ireland.

England is just a friendly neighbour now.  We have never been able to say that about England before, or about ourselves.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 04:28:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Frank, I imagine you celebrate if and when Ireland beats England. During the last world cup, I remained poker faced, you see my wife is French (of the very Latin variety) and is a supporter of Les Quinzes de France through and through -- it wouldn't have done to show how incredibly good I felt when England beat France or there would have been instant backlash. Kiddies were neutral - daughter refused to watch the semi final while the boys just said, 'tant pis.'
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 07:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely your latin wife doesn't expect you to exercise British reserve and a stiff upper lip when a rendition of "Land of Hope and Glory" followed by "God save the Queen" is called for?  You need do build your relationship on a firmer emotional footing!!!  Equality of Esteem is required for both your chauvinistic preferences!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 11:07:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With a "very latin wife" it could get dangerous...! :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 11:20:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Fr Frank for a most Irish advice. (Heh!)
by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 12:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's so "Irish" about it?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 02:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why the change? Because you feel au pair, or better, with England, in economical terms?

It is a shame that regulations were modified to prevent that an amateur team may no longer be able to enter the world cup.
Argentina should have won.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 11:53:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid it would take a long treatise on Anglo-Irish relations to explain that one - even a Diary would be insufficient, although I might give it a go sometime.

findmeaDoorIntoSummer:

It is a shame that regulations were modified to prevent that an amateur team may no longer be able to enter the world cup.

That has not been done.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 11:09:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
54% think the cheese eating surrender monkeys will win the 6 nations championship?  HAH! Proof that ET is dominated by dirigistas from the Parisian wing of the Althusserian-Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyite 30 hour workers party!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 03:55:25 PM EST
Memories of my own -very short- rugby career.

In France, there is no notion of compulsory school sports. If one wants, one might get into a local association to do a specific sports ; I never did anything of the sort. There is however a 2-hours-a-week sports course.

In 4e (8th grade), the gym teacher substitute was captain of the Grenoble rugby team (which was very good at the time. And the refs stole that championship, Castres should never had won). So we spent two months on the rugby fields.

We had another rugby sequence during the 11th grade, during which I broke my elbow - rugby is dangerous even when played not all that seriously.

Finally we had to chose a sport to practice in my engineering school ; in the first year I chose rugby. In France, it get damn cold and freezing in the winters, and rugby on fields that are hardening is not fun. There is a reason rugby isn't much popular in the northern parts of France. Plus, there were indeed many people getting badly hurt. For the second year, my sport was archery...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 08:49:06 AM EST
Nobody being hurt in archery ????

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 12:16:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well it's  All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye ,

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 12:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Couldn't get the link, as the lines were a bit weird this week-end !

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 10:34:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless using compounded bows, which pack enough energy that they are dangerous when breaking up, and as long as everybody applies the security rules, archery is pretty safe ; the only risk being a rash on the left wrist.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 08:05:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and sore fingers where you let go of the string

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 08:18:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only fingers... ! :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 10:33:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The other thing with archery being that it can be done inside when the weather is bad, and that there is thankfully little running around.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 08:06:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Golf (a waste of a good walk)

LOL

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 01:38:43 AM EST
Nice to see a lurker returns!  Welcome back melo!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 08:50:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, frank, your blogging has morphed from good to great, if i may be so bold as to say...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 5th, 2008 at 07:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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