Ruling Rugby

Rough and Tumble
Meredith H. Keffer

Obi Okwara ‘12 (right) helps take down a player from Brown in a rugby game on Saturday. The match ended in a loss for Harvard.

New Zealand: an island known for Mordor’s famous jewelry collections, hairy high-pitched comedic folk singers, and sheep. It’s a sub-nation of Australia and home to the three Rs: Racing, Beer, and Rugby. This fall, 20 teams from around the world have gathered in New Zealand for a sporting event bigger than the FIFA World Cup, the World Series, and World War II combined. FM Presents: A Particularly Informed Guide to the World Cup of Rugby!


Founded by the Soviets in 1890, rugby, or as it was known back then, Communist Football, began as a theatrical dance where performers would stand on large poles tossing sheep stomachs to one another. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991, Communist Football moseyed its way over to England, where the English got rid of the poles, changed the sheep stomachs to egg-shaped balls, and took on the rules of American Football. Hence modern rugby was born.


Rugby is played with 15 brutish, temperamental gladiators on each side. It’s a cross between contact hot potato and acrobatic soccer. The field they play on, which is specially designed for the game, has two sides of equal length adjacent to two other sides of equal length.

The object of the game is to maim the opposing team so that your team can get the most touchdowns. This makes sense, because injured people are slow and useless. One of the most unique aspects of play is that competitors can only throw the ball backwards. This, of course, is because of the Coriolis effect in the southern hemisphere (also the reason toilets drain the other way).


As the premier international tournament of the sport, the World Cup of Rugby is not to be missed. Three billion people—half of the world’s population—are watching it. Representing America among these viewers are Tommy Wilkinson from Detroit, Willy Tomkinson from Raleigh, and David Beckham from Los Angeles. There would probably be more than three people following in the U.S. if the games weren’t on at such obscure times. Why do those damn internationals play sports at three in the morning anyway?!

With all of this in mind, you are now ready for the thrill of your life. The World Rugby Cup quarterfinals are coming up Oct. 8. Get your Foster’s chilled, start practicing your Maori Haka chants, and GO TEAM USA! If only we hadn’t lost in the first round.


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