You Don’t Grow Out of It: Rugby

As a child I was often described as rambunctious. Now that I am a grown man, maybe slightly past grown, that is probably not how most would describe me, but that is only because I eventually learned how to sit still in my chair (turns out the secret to this all along has been money; I get paid to sit in my chair and it works beautifully).


But I’m still that guy.

And by that guy I don’t just mean energetic, I mean there is something fundamental about me where I am compelled to run into other people. Exercise doesn’t really cure it. I’ll run if I have too, but if for some reason it’s okay to shove somebody, maybe even get shoved back real hard, I will do it without question every time no matter what. I say shove because maybe I’m slightly shy of saying hit, but hit is probably more accurate. Punch could apply, but it doesn’t have to be a fist. It could be a shoulder, an elbow, or maybe just a shove as long as it is hard enough that you need to work to stay upright.

I don’t really want to hurt anyone, in fact, I really don’t like the idea of hurting people yet there is this odd thing, a very real thing that wants to be rowdy. It is fun. Plain. Simple. Fun.

I am not alone.

Not even a little bit.

There is a breed of person, I have mostly found them playing basketball, who object to even the slightest brush and hold the word “foul” sacred, but then there are these other ones. My people. These are the ones who throw elbows under the basket. These are the guys who sprint to the other end of the court not to try and block your shot, but to try and set a pick or take a charge. My people.

People like me are often found on football teams (the American version), in mosh pits, or wrestling. They, we, used to be boxers but now it’s mostly MMA, which is maybe just a tad too mean for the general person… but maybe not. The mosh pit was great and offensive line wasn’t the worst, but those things don’t carry over into adulthood. Not really. Football without pads isn’t the same game, my ears hurt if the mosh pit is too close to the speakers, and kids appear to find grown men in such places creepy. I get it, but here I am with this playful urge to push and shove. What do I do? Where do I go?

Pardon my rhetorical question, my lazy device, because I obviously have the answer, but I have long been perplexed at how few of you do.

It’s rugby.

It’s perfect.

I am not arguing that rugby is better than football (the American version) or that basketball is bad. I like basketball and love football. I love football like one might still have warm feelings for a first crush or kiss, no, it’s more developed than that. We aren’t divorced, we never broke up, so maybe football and I had a serious relationship but then one of us got a job on the other coast and things just didn’t work out and we had to affectionately pursue our own business, admiring each other from afar.

Which is part of why rugby is perfect. Less business. Not the sport, there’s plenty of room for business there, but I mean the game.

If you are an American and aren’t familiar with rugby don’t apologize, it’s not your fault. Most of us are introduced later in life, and that’s okay. Let me describe it.

It’s a game.

First, a bunch of people get a ball, then they run around throwing and kicking it, all the while shoving and tackling each other. There are boundaries and you do keep score, but most importantly there are built in ways you get to shove, tackle, and even throw each other. Yes. You get to throw people. Up in the air. They tend to be large people, so it ends up being more of a heave than throw, but it is still fun.

When someone is running with the ball, you tackle them. When the person with the ball is on the ground, you get to shove people from the other team away from the ball so you can pick it up and keep running. That’s called a ruck. If this kind of shoving isn’t productive, you stop, and your 8 biggest people hug together in front of the ball and collectively try to push the other team’s 8 biggest people backward, till the ball pops out the back of this reverse tug-of-war, at which point your smallest player picks up ball the ball and tries to pass it away before someone tackles them.

If the ball is on the ground in front of you, you just pick it up and run. If someone passes you the ball, someone else is going to try and tackle you, so run. You can run right at people, or try to run around them, or throw the ball away to someone else. My favorite is to pretend to pass the ball but then keep it and run right at the potential tackler. You can score points by running the ball to the end of the filed or by kicking the ball through a set of goal posts, and you just keep playing, shoving, and tackling till you are exhausted, or for 80 minutes, whichever happens first.

Then, after the game, you rub menthol on your neck and legs, glue up any small cuts, then go hang out with the other team. Often this is at a bar or what non-Americans call a “pub”. At the pub people sing songs, drink, tell stories, or just chat about whatever. Other times you go somewhere and sit around a bowl, or a 5 gallon bucket, filled with muddy water and you listen to reggae. Someone will always play Lucky Dube.

It won’t matter who those other people are, where they are from, or how rough the game was, this after party will always be great, because above all else these are people who love to crash into other people.

For fun.

So it isn’t just me. There are a lot of us. I don’t know why this is fun. I don’t know why I want to crash and tackle and ruck or scrum. But I do. I always have. I think I always will. It is why, if we are friends, I might hip check you for no reason. It is why, if we are just sitting around, I might shove your chair or kick your shoe. I’m not trying to be annoying; I just want to play, and pardon me if I pause when we greet, I am just restraining myself.

But if you are an Aggie Old Boy, a Greenville Griffin, Park City Haggis or Atlanta Renegade, especially if you are a Wharton Wharthog… or a Giltini, Eagle, Puma, All Black, Wallaby, Bok, or Cherry Blossom… If you are CHABAL! I will shove you.

Lets play.

Football 101: the Ivy League

When you contemplate the upcoming college football season, because I know you do, what schools are on your mind? Perhaps it is the notoriously ferocious athletes at Princeton? Maybe ‘tis the physically imposing young men of Yale? Ah, or by chance you appreciate the absolute dominance of the University of Chicago?

Right. Of course not.1200x-1

I find this amusing. Ironic, in the Alanis Morissette usage of the word.

You probably think of places like Auburn, USC, or maybe “the” Ohio State. You are wondering, or rooting for, who will win the Florida vs. Florida State game, or Texas vs. Oklahoma. You think of the SEC or Big 10. The PAC 12 or ACC. Do you ever consider the Ivy League? No? Let us consider it now.Ivy-League

Once upon a time America was a relatively new political institution consisting of mostly English expatriates and the ones with money wanted their kids to go hang out with other children of rich English expats. So they sent them to colleges. Places like Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Brown. There these young boys had parties, rioted over bad cafeteria food, memorized Latin, and had rituals where they beat each other up en masse. Now there were some exceptions. Some young men went to college because they were both rich and also nerds. These are the ones who read philosophy and were named Franklin Roosevelt. But make no mistake, FDR was the exception, most of them were more like Teddy. This was way before US News and World Report rankings or even before the BCS. Back then college rankings looked more like a pedigree chart and banking network. Back then college kids wore ties. On purpose.IMG_2580

But most schools, at least once a year, took off those ties, usually their shirts too, and had giant shoving matches or competitions. They varied from place to place but it was usually something like Juniors versus Sophomores trying to move a gigantic leather ball from one end of a courtyard to the other.  Or a tug of war. Or wrestling. It was a competition to win a bowl, or a jug, or bragging rights. Important stuff.penn

Over across the pond, where these boy’s granddaddies came from, school boys were doing similar sorts of things. Lots of kicking balls and roughhousing and being rich. At one school, called the Rugby School, they started picking up the ball rather than kicking it. The game started to catch on. This was about the year 1827. Back in 1827, England, or rather the fathers of rich English school boys, had pretty much colonized most of the globe. This colonization did include America at one time, but there was revolution and all that mess, so by 1827 when restless rich English kids graduated University, or when they needed to gain some legitimacy, they joined the Royal army and went and played their roughhousing games in places like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The boys at Harvard and Yale were watching their cousins but were soon distracted when some clowns attacked Fort Sumter.  That distraction lasted till 1865.resolver (17)

Once the American Civil War was over the young rich kids from up north had to go back to school. The rich kids from the south weren’t rich anymore and the poor northern kids stayed in the army. Funny thing is that once boys have been to war, or even if they were too young to fight while a war was going on, they get extra restless if then sent to sit in a classroom. Having good memories these young students recalled those games their English cousins were playing and decided to follow suit. This was pretty normal for them, after all the whole college thing itself was a bit of an imitation game. Harvard is built in a place they called Cambridge and Princeton had always been trying to be Oxford.IMG_2026

Anywhose, on November 6th 1869, Princeton visited the campus of their divorced sibling Rutgers and played a game of football. They did indeed call the game football, it was mostly kicking, and Rutgers won 6-4. Seven days later Rutgers sauntered on over to Princeton for a re-match. Playing on their own turf meant they got to propose their own rules, one of which allowed for a player to catch a kicked ball mid-air. Princeton won 8-0. Crafty buggers.


Not too far away Harvard, like any rich kid who notices what the Joneses are doing, wanted in on the action. In May of 1874 they invited McGill to come down to Cambridge for a two game series. On the first day they played football with a round ball like they did in New Jersey. Harvard won 3-0. The next day McGill, being good Canadians who never poured any tea in a harbor, insisted that day’s game be played more like the updated version the English rugby boys were playing. It had an oblong ball and running. The game ended in a tie but the Boston boys were hooked. Later that very same year, 1874, 2,000 people showed up to watch Harvard win the rematch 3 tries to 0.

These rich college kids were on to something.wollen_last_cent

At this time all of America was getting “on to something”. Industrialization was becoming a thing, Manifest Destiny was all the rage, and more rich white people were sending their boys off to college to be with other rich white boys than ever before. Problem was back then telephones weren’t all that big and no one had televisions, so it was difficult for rich parents to keep in touch with their school boys and it was even tougher to make sure everyone else knew your kids were rich and important. Luckily one of the great ways to get rich back then was to own a newspaper. The internet hadn’t started the French Revolution yet and so the Bourgeoisie New York Times was free to cover the activities of rich college kids like the internet would a Kardashian.3707358200_0d296eab18_o

The sports page had things like rowing, fencing, and equestrian events. Pretty soon, thanks to all our practice at Gettysburg, Andrew Carnegie, and the White Fleet, there were even more rich people than there used to be and the sports page was covering football games at places like the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, and Stanford. This football thing was getting big. So big in fact that by 1903 both Harvard and Yale broke ground on permanent stadiums just for this game of football. Harvard’s could seat 30,000 people, Yale’s could seat 70,000. Neither school even had 10,000 students. But people were paying attention to the few students there were at those places, and as is always the case with Kardashians, there were a lot of imitators or spin offs. Soon you had people tackling each other and taking duck lip selfies in places like Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Not necessarily at the schools in those places- just in those places. I mean, these people weren’t even in college let alone rich. Just common Etsy users. The nerve!Yale_Bowl

With the spreading popularity of the game and the historically consistent need of rich people to win, the line between student and athlete was quickly blurred. Schools that wanted to make money by filling stadiums-er- wanted their students to learn valuable life lessons through winning intercollegiate sporting events, started dabbling here and there in paying certain individuals with certain skills to come be a student for their school for a few games here and there. This ruffled feathers. Up until this point college was first and foremost, a place for sons of rich people to commune amongst themselves, with the occasional exception for an extra serious student. This whole football thing was trying to shift those exceptions from smart nerds, whom no one cared about, to poorer (not rich) athletic kids, whom the public loved. Something had to be done.IMG_0542

Luckily America was blessed at this time with a president who was also a Harvard alum, so he understood the importance of the situation. He was able to concoct some national crisis or concern about how many people died playing football in 1905 (19). Hadn’t the civil war taught us anything about the value of life? Doesn’t America know we need these kids alive as we ramp up for the first world war? I mean college is where the children of Vanderbilts and Kennedys hang out. Premature violent death is for poor people and immigrants, not Vanderbilts, unless of course they are an officer in a glorious world conflict in places like Cuba, so stay tuned, but for now, football must be regulated! The following year 62 colleges signed on as charter members of the NCAA, a loose organization organized to make sure poor people weren’t being paid to play rich people games, and that the game would be safer. Teddy was great at this sort of thing.IMG_2563

So the NCAA got to work protecting integrity and human life. Most of the schools, Like the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to make the game safer by making the playing field wider. The idea is that if there is more room to run away from someone you are less likely to get ran over by them. Makes sense. Other schools, named Harvard and Yale, wanted to make the game safer by making this new trick called the forward pass legal. The idea is that if you are allowed to throw the ball away when you are about to get trampled, you are less likely to get trampled.Makes sense. This passing the ball idea made even more sense to Harvard and Yale since they had just built their new huge stadiums out of concrete and all those seats might be easier to fill if there was a new trick to watch… and it was physically impossible to widen the field since they hadn’t left any spare room when they built the 50,000 seat concrete facility for student recreation. Fortunately for the Doug Fluties of the world the forward pass won the day. But let me get back to the wide field advocates at places like Penn.out_of_the_game

While Harvard and Yale were the traditional homes of traditional rich people memorizing Latin and rioting over bad food, Penn was the traditional home of more practical press apprenticing Ben Franklin and P&L statement memorizing Joseph Wharton. Add in all the Keynesian economists over in Chicago and just plain nerds at that newfangled Cornell, and you have some relatively influential schools that were highly “invested” in winning football games. The NCAA, which more or less started as a meeting at the White House, settled on being mostly a club where schools could agree on rules like forward passes and flying wedges, and sort of skirted about the whole paying players and filling stadiums stuff so the grand settlement was that Pasadena California should build a big stadium not on any campus and host a “bowl game” every January. This may have been everyone’s undoing as no sooner did they start hosting this big game and writing about it in the Times, than schools like Washington State and Oregon were beating schools like Brown and Penn. It was just like Vogue putting Kim Kardashian on the cover; this was not in the original playbook. USC, Alabama, and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech? There is a “tech” in the name of the school for heaven’s sake. This desire to fill stadiums and win games got so carried away that in 1916, a full 54 years before USC’s famous game against all white Bama, Brown fielded a brown player named Fritz Pollard. Imagine how popular you would be as a black man with a German name in 1916 (just as an FYI the whole world was in a war against Germany in 1916). Meh, who cares when it comes to football right? Elihu Yale must have been rolling over in his grave. But not everyone was ready to just roll over. Some folks were serious about school and integrity, and rich white boys- I mean education.77

So along comes this guy Robert Hutchins. He was one of those poor white nerds that Yale decided to be nice to back in the day. Huge mistake. First Yale let him in, then he becomes the Dean of the law school, and next thing ya know, bam, he’s the president of the University of Chicago. Ya see, when you let a non-rich nerd take over the show, they turn it into a nerd show. Poor Chicago. In 1935 a Chicago halfback won this fancy trophy they were giving to the best football player in the whole country called the “Heisman” (named after a guy who played football at both Brown and Penn). Four years later, this guy Hutchins CANCELS FOOTBALL! Ends it. Done. No more team. Nerd. Evil nerd. But what else was there to do? This game meant to keep roughhousing rich white boys busy had experienced some serious mission drift and was becoming-uh hum- common. The originally not rich nerd chose to cancel the fun so the school could stay nerdy, but the original club of rich white boys had another plan. They decided to take their ball and go home. In 1936 Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Penn, along with that new kid Cornell, unofficially banded together in what they were calling “an ivy league” and for the most part decided to just compete against each other and no longer mess with the rabble. This unofficial league had a gentleman’s agreement that they wouldn’t give any athletic scholarships and would only consider one’s actual scholarship (or pedigree) in deciding college admissions. This was a grand return to their educational roots and original scholastic ideals, though those ideals never really existed in the first place. Isn’t it ironic? Yeah, I really do think.8b04d512846bc903_large

Perhaps some of you do not like Alanis Morrisette, or are not of my generation so you have no idea who that is (the Drake of the 90’s), and consequentially you think I am being unfair in my historical descriptions of the non-scholastic motives of these birthplaces of God’s great game. This might be the case. I was once an offensive lineman so I am not above playing dirty. But consider if you will the idea that before the 1920’s there were no real admissions requirements other than graduating high school, for one to be admitted to college. I mean, way back when colleges started there wasn’t even such thing as a high school. There was only money. But in the 20’s a lot more people started enrolling in colleges and not just more people, but different kinds of people. Some of these people were burly non book reading types who were being paid to play football at Penn, but those guys were asked (paid) to come, and after all, there are only so many players on a football team. No one really cared. But there were also these non–rich only semi-white guys who enrolled in huge numbers called Jews. They hadn’t exactly been invited. Colleges saw this as a problem and thankfully for them they had almost 200 years of previous practice as a coalition of rich white guys and the occasional nerd to devise such things as “geographical balance” and “extracurricular considerations.” These were more or less quotas. In many cases, they were actual quotas.In the 1920’s places like Columbia (in this case Columbia specifically) upon realizing they had become 40% Jewish enacted these extra admissions considerations and successfully got that Jewish percentage down to 20% within two years. Now mind you this is the same Columbia that beat Stanford for the national title in the 1933 Rose Bowl. Go Lions!cops_gordon

New York was not the only place struggling with an influx of non-rich semi-white students. Consider this official statement from Harvard in 1922: “The great increase which has recently taken place in the number of students at Harvard College, as at the other colleges, has brought up forcibly the problem of the limitation of enrollment.

We have not at present sufficient classrooms or dormitories, to take care of any further large increase. This problem is really a group of problems, all difficult, and most of them needing for their settlement more facts than we now have. Before a general policy can be formulated on this great question it must engage the attention of the Governing Board and the Faculties and it is likely to be discussed by alumni and undergraduates.

It is natural that with a widespread discussion of this sort going on there should be talk about the proportion of Jews at the college. At present the whole problem of limitation of enrollment is in the stage of general discussion and it may remain in that stage for a considerable time.”0d1248ee26f2d6cbf70ee83156f27329

It was almost like the game was getting dangerous and Harvard found themselves unable to widen the field and instead chose to pass. They, and the other bastions of college football, were in danger of being trampled and unfortunately US News & World Report wouldn’t start publishing college rankings till 1983 so they were still dependent on pedigrees and bank accounts to decide which schools were best. In fact, these were such dangerous times that it was beginning to be hard to know what exactly was meant by best and how it should be measured. So Chicago quit, the Ivies formed a league, and Southern Methodist University eventually got the death penalty.exit the stadium

This all matters because I recently purchased this special eye black that comes in the colors of the university that employs me. I care about the intellectual development of my children and as a responsible parent I intend to decorate them in collegiate regalia when we go to the games starting this fall. It matters because we have recently learned that football teams in Illinois outrank the college president and that in North Carolina football players can get grades in a whole course of classes while the professor is away on sabbatical. These are great schools. I know this because both the BCS and a magazine tell me so. I have been to a great school and consequentially, and I write this with no irony, I can proudly pronounce the name Chris Fuamatu Ma’afala, with no help and ignore the red Microsoft squiggly lines with confidence. I am confident in my education.jefferson football

I was recently reading Walter Camp’s suggestions on how to train a top notch defensive end. His instructions included rowing and eating toast. Walter should not be ignored because he is who created Knute Rockne, Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden, and Bill Belichick. I may even give old Walter Camp credit for Joe Montana, Joe Brown, Joe Paterno, and Joe Theismann. Yup, all of them. As I peek at while at my desk, listen to Jim Rome during my commute, or watch Sports Center while doing whatever verb describes what you do on an elliptical (ellipticate?) I think of Walter Camp.

And Walter went to Yale.yalecoaches

I Just Wanna Kick It: LeatherHead Sports Rugby Ball

Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all over campus… it was really quiet because all the students have gone home. The only sound to be heard was my high pitched excited squeal as the UPS man brought me a LeatherHead Sports rugby ball.GDXF7476

Once upon a time, in places like Oxford and Auckland men wore sports jackets to sporting events and football was called rugby. There were striped (hooped) pullover shirts with collars, bloody noses, and an inflated leather ball shaped a bit like an egg.164218684_1ec8029c21_o

That egg was kicked, punched, and tossed between goal posts till one day Teddy Roosevelt wielded a big stick and the NCAA legalized the forward pass. The ball flew forward better when the laces were turned inside out and the ends were made pointy. Hence those who listened to Teddy play football, and don’t get me wrong I love that game, but I respect my elders.

Rugby remains, but finding a ball that hearkens back to its origins is not as easy. Well, maybe it is easy if you know where to look, and where you should look, is LeatherHead Sports.


Leatherhead Sports has been featured on theartofmanliness, acontinuouslean, GQ, Esquire, and pretty much everyone mostly thanks to thier custom hand made footballs and old school baseballs. Those are great (especially the medicine balls that I currently covet), but that rugby ball is my sugar plum equivalent and if you hold on to the ball after being tackled expect your head to be danced upon.IMG_8737


Shakespeare in Chicago: New Zealand All Blacks

The game of rugby was born at a small boarding school in England. These young boys grew up and took the game with them, spreading it around the world, or at least anywhere in the world that at one time saw a concentration of former English school boys. This game remained a game till it hit New Zealand. There it became an art.


The United States was well established as its own country by the time rugby was invented, but American Universities like Harvard and Princeton were still fashioning themselves in the image of places like Cambridge and Oxford. All of those schools, especially the American one’s, played rugby. Over time the American version morphed a bit, we started blocking players who weren’t carrying the ball, stopped play after each tackle, and finally, the move that forever swept American’s away from rugby, the forward pass was made legal.


Rugby became football and Americans fell into a deep passionate love with gridiron. It started in the ivy league schools of the East Coast, spread to schools nationwide, and then, mostly in the Midwest, the game went professional. Those early days of the NFL are forever in our memory as black and white images of games being played on frozen fields in places like Green Bay, Cleveland, and Chicago. Soldier Field in Chicago, home of Mike Ditka and the Chicago Bears, is a living temple dedicated to the memory of the early days of football and the steel toughened game we love.


I love both games. They are cousins. Birthed of the same parents but reared oceans apart, they tell the same story in different languages, and as the language of rugby goes, the New Zealand All Blacks are Shakespeare. The Americans who still play the game are more like Steinbeck.


They flow with flourishes of color and beauty. We are straight forward, dusty and plodding. I like Steinbeck but watching the Grapes of Wrath performed is not Midsummer Night’s Dream. Reading either is fun, but New Zealand performs. They embody beauty. The Americans travel dirt roads toward California scrounging for a better life.


New Zealand rarely plays against the American national team (Eagles). When they do meet, it isn’t in America. Every time they have met, New Zealand has won. Handily.


But sometimes legends do meet, Washington knew Jefferson, Socrates and Plato, and then Soldier Field and the All Blacks. The match was attended by 60,000 people, the largest crowd in American rugby history, and I was there. Me and every other rugby fan in the States. Every thick chested, Guinness drinking, tree trunk legged American sat in the frozen stands and got wobbly kneed when the Kiwis did the haka.


The score was as predicted- Shakespeare plays never have new endings, but the performance is always worth watching. Seeing it live…



Keep Your Head on a Swivel

I have played rugby for more than twelve years now and to this day, no coach or player, has ever told me to keep my head on a swivel. I suspect most true ruggers would have no idea what that means and proffer some witty criticism of such an idea. I was reminded of the term while watching the NFL playoffs this weekend . I saw a play, rather I felt it through my TV. I felt it enough to sit down and jump back into the rugby vs. football discussion. Give ear to my argument o ye warring sides and shut up already.

The New Orleans Saints had the ball and while attempting one of those American forward passes, the defender, from San Francisco, capitalized on his assigned defender falling down, and intercepted the pass. Normal enough. The defeated receiver in a noble effort at redemption picked himself up off the ground and began to pursue his opposition who was beginning his run back the other direction. About two strides into the chase a Forty Niner came flying in from off-screen, hit this poor unsuspecting receiver right in the chest, lifting him up off the ground and sending him flat on his back. In football its called a pancake block. They hurt. That New Orlinian failed to keep his head on a swivel or he would have seen it coming.

This is the huge differentiator between the two games and one of the key factors that renders a comparison irrelevant. Most who argue which sport is better spend all their time on padding, specialists, and play stoppage, I have never heard anyone deal with blocking. I assume it is because most who huff and puff in these discussions haven’t played both games, or if one has, I assume they at one point, in either sport, performed poorly leaving the arguer bitter and likely suffering from a head injury that destroyed the part of the brain dealing with logic and reason.

I'm in there somewhere

I recall as a sophomore in high school I was excited to have an opportunity play “special teams” for the varsity. I got my chance to pursue a kickoff against a rival team and did so with gusto. In my youthful exuberance I became distracted from the ball carrier by an opposing player whose intent was to block me from the ball carrier. My intent became running over this blocker, and I did. I had a thirty yard running start, exploded square into his chest, and he landed flat on his back. It was exhilarating. I felt full of power and adrenaline as I stood over the top of him gloating. The play wasn’t over yet and upon realizing this I took one step backwards and turned to pursue the ball carrier, wherever he was.

As soon as I turned around a flying human missile planted his head right in my chest. My feet came off the ground, I lost my breath, and everything liquid or liquid like inside my face exploded onto the inside of my face mask. I was flat on my back trying to regain my breath, my bearings, and my pride.

I played football for years and every play of every game or every practice, included my hurling myself headlong into my opposition as fast and hard as I could. I loved it.

In my first ever rugby game, an opposing player picked the ball off the corner of a scrum and tried to slip by on the short side of the field. As the backside flanker I had a great angle on him and took off like a rocket. I planted my forehead in his chest, wrapped up, and drove him into the ground. In rugby a tackle does not signify the end of play, but it was the end for me and that other guy both. He rolled on the ground holding his shoulder, or so I’m told because I couldn’t see very well, my nose was broken. I never tried that again.

I'm in there, I promise.

In the years since switching to the egg shaped ball, I have never endured the type of hit I received on that play my sophomore year. I’ve never had the sort of internally deflating hit that comes out of no where. I have been trampled, knocked heads, broken my nose again, but never been completely deflated out of no where. It doesn’t happen because not only are there no pads in rugby, but because there is no blocking.

They are not the same game, lets stop arguing.