Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Greatest Sport You've Never Seen

It looks like the Real Salt Lake Stadium isn’t a complete waste of tax payer money. November 8th, USA Rugby will host a doubleheader at the newly opened Rio Tinto Stadium (the Real Salt Lake Stadium in Sandy). A USA select XV will play a curtain raiser against New Zealand Heartland. The main event will feature USA’s National team vs. Uruguay’s National Team. If you have ever been interested in seeing rugby played at a high level, I highly recommend purchasing tickets.

Most of the people that read this blog know me pretty well. Those fortunate souls are quite aware of my love of the game of rugby. In fact, you’re all probably pretty tired of hearing about it from me. But I have had 54 entries in this blog and have yet to mention the sport. For this, I am ashamed.

I played rugby for two years in high school and 5 years in college. Up until about a month ago, I helped coach BYU’s rugby team. Rugby has been a dominant element of my life over the last 15 years or so.

I wish I could effectively communicate why I love this sport as much as I do. But I lack the poetic ability to articulate such things, so I won’t try too hard to do so. It is a game that combines the elegant spontaneity of an NBA fast break, the brutality of the NFL and the endurance and strategy of Soccer without the fake injuries and overall douchiness. (I plan on doing a "why soccer sucks" blog in the near future.) No other sport demands more of each individual member of the team than rugby. Man, I wish America would catch on to this.

Now, my tribute to rugby is in no way a jab at football. By football, I mean football. Not friggin soccer. Damn it, if you are an American don't ever call soccer football. Nothing could be more insulting. But the rugby v football thing is a common argument. Which is the tougher game. I think that conversation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of room for both, my friends.

It’s hard to enjoy a sport that you don’t understand. Here is a link to a brief overview of the game. As you watch the following clips, you may be a little confused but don't worry about that. Just sit back and enjoy.

I watched quite a bit of rugby clips on Youtube, trying to find a good one. Most of them were on par with a high school football highlight video complete with stupid titles like "A real man's sport" or "Are you tough enough?" as they show illegal hits and cheap shots all to the "music" of Limp Bizkut (seriously, play that clip on mute). Man, I hate Limp Biscutt. They are the musical equivilant of huffing gasoline.

For the record, it is illegal to hit a player while they are in the air. Also, you cannot tackle above the shoulders and you must make an attempt to rap up. A violation of these rules usually leads to time in the penalty box or ejection from the game. So a lot of the hits in that link are total cheap shots. It's like have a football highlight film of facemasks and blocks in the back.

Although a lot of these montages have some sweet hits, they miss the full beauty of the sport. In fact, this sort of depiction disrespects and misrepresents the sport. Unfortunately, rugby has been dominated in America by unskilled, drunken assholes that just want to fight. If you see a jacked up Jeep with a bumper sticker that says "give blood, play rugby" you can pretty much bet that a. they are a member of the aforementioned group and b. they suck at rugby.

Here is a really good clip from a game played between England and Ireland last year. It features some great hits, but it also has some fantastic loose play, rolling mauls, vicious rucks and perfect kicks. Also, I am impressed with the camera work.

Here's another clip that shows the game in regular speed.

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