Blood + Sweat + Tears = Rugby

21 Mar

Okay so no one ever told me how hardcore Rugby is. Where has this sport been all my life? Thank you Ireland for opening my eyes.

I know we have it in the states. I mean my cousin played at the same university I attend now, but it’s a much bigger deal here. Better players. Better matches. Better fans.

What is Rugby?

If you don’t want to know the ins and outs then just know that Rugby is basically a better, fiercer, bloodier, soccer-football mutant. Yeah mutant, like these guys’ massive quad muscles.

To be a bit more technical…there are 15 guys running around for each team. The objective is to score points by getting the rugby ball across the goal line. This is called a try (like a touchdown) worth 5 points. You can also kick field goals and every team gets to kick after scoring a try.

So far its sounds a lot like football, but now we stray. Any player can carry, pass, or kick the ball. The only restriction is you cannot pass the ball forward. So basically it looks like a giant game of keep-away…but more hardcore. There are no formal plays like in football. Thus, the clock rarely stops. 80 minutes of brutal force split into two halves.

Something particularly unique to Rugby is the scrum. A scrum is a contest for the ball involving eight players who bind together and push against the other team’s assembled eight for possession. Scrums restart play after certain minor infractions. This is the coolest thing y’all.


For the record, there are different rules for Rugby Leagues versus Rugby Unions, but I’ll just leave that to you and your Google searching if you’re interested.

Why is Rugby so Hardcore?

Is that really a question? Silly reader.

First of all. They wear no pads. No helmets.

Just their adorable long socks and short-shorts so we can all admire.

I fully appreciate the magnificence of the Rugby uniform, but at the same time I cringe at how beaten their bodies must get. These guys are slammed into the ground. Not even turf. Freaking earth. Have you felt the earth lately? It’s not something I enjoy slamming my body into.


Second of all, there are like zero breaks. American football is constant start and stop, but Rugby is a pretty solid 80 minutes of go. Oh but THEN let’s talk about substitutions. American NFL football teams hold 53 players. Those players and then split, like play time, into offense and defense. And in both football and soccer, substitutions are nearly infinite.

But oh no Rugby, that would be too easy. There are only 7-12 substitutions on each Rugby team, and once a player goes out, he cannot re-enter the game. Breaks are apparently for the weak.

Oh wait. The only exception to that rule is if guys run off because blood is slowly dripping down their face and they get stitched up real fast. Nbd.

I’ve sort of rambled on at this point, so I’m going to cut myself off here and just say: Rugby is one of the most physically and mentally intense games I’ve ever seen.

Up Close and Personal

Thanks to the lovely study abroad program I’m attending, FIE, I was able to attend a Pro 12 match between Leinster (Providence Dublin is in) and the Glasgow Warriors (from Scotland).

It was great. Men in short-shorts everywhere.


Haha. Okay I swear it was cool because of the sport and atmosphere too, not just these men and their long socks.

The match was a lot like minor league sports back home. Smaller stadium, less rowdy, cheaper tickets etc. Though, I think Pro 12 is a pretty major rugby league…. Y’all I don’t know I’m doing my best haha Anyways, I just love sports so I had a great time. Plus Leinster won 28-25!

I love actually going to sporting events, but everyone knows sometimes the best seats are from your own chair in front of the television. So this brings me too…

Six Nations Rugby and IRISH DOMINATION

So there is this big tournament called Six Nations Rugby. The nations are: Ireland, England, France, Whales, Scotland, and Italy. This year, St.Patrick’s weekend, France hosted Ireland for the championship.

So basically every single television in this country was on. It’s like the Superbowl. Emotions ran high.

We went to watch the game at a nearby pub and holy shells it was intense. People were packed in like sardines. It was so funny for the pub to be basically silent and then all of a sudden everyone would be cursing out the television in unison. You really didn’t need to understand the game at all. It was obvious weather I was supposed to be happy or angry about a play.

The passion ladies and gents. That’s something I love about sports. It’s like religion for some people.

Anyways the game was brutal. Lots of bloody faces not getting stitched up. One guy was carried off in a stretcher. These guys are insane.

Fast forward 80 minutes…


VICTORY IS OURS. Ireland defeated France 20-22. It was a cool moment, even for me, a new bandwagon fan for the Irish. I was so happy for them! There was no shortage of blood, sweat, and tears at this match.

I’ll leave you with this great quote:

“You know, say what you will about the ravages of sports in this corporate age where overpaid athletes expect prima donna treatment, but there is still something so unifying about sport in its purest form, when athletes rise above themselves and touch greatness and, in doing so, remind us all that we also have greatness inside of us.” 


Brooke Ballengee


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