The final of the Rugby World Cup will be fought out in Paris this Saturday between Britain and South Africa.  For those who don’t know the game, it is a sort of hybrid between soccer and football (American expressions) that was invented by the British Public (really private) School of that name back when.  Our American football evolved from it and is now a very different species.

For the uninitiated Rugby is played by teams that lock horns at various points in what are called scrums when the two sides line up two deep to shove each other as the ball is tossed down the line between them by a referee.  One team has a central figure who tries to kick the ball to the back fielders who then start running towards the goal lines.  These back fielders, as tacklers approach them, can lateral the ball to fellow back fielders — but only backwards.  A forward lateral brings a penalty.

The teams are not shielded as in American football with padded equipment, so that tackling is generally softer than the American version — around the ankles rather than mid body which can be a real jolt for both tackler and tacked (I learned the hard way when playing the game at Rugby’s principal competitor school, Uppingham, where I was an exchange student) — reinjured an old wrist thing from having played American football the year before in high school.

The principal injury that one can receive in Rugby is what is called the Rugby ear — one’s ears get jammed against the butts of fellow players when one is shoving in the scrum.  I acquired one — one thickened ear.  I think they wear a protective something now to prevent that now — does not affect hearing.

One can kick the ball under certain circumstances for a goal, but I forget the details — I think it is a sort of drop kick.  One can obviously pick up the ball which one cannot do in soccer.

Enjoy the finals.  Rugby has not spread widely in this country, but there is a group trying to get it going in Manhattan, if they can find a proper playing field.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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