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Rugby Union: Or "rugger" as it is known in the champagne circles. This sport is merely pretraining for polo in later years. Almost exclusively played in non-state schools, fifteen potential doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers and corporate criminals rally around an oval, rucking the opposition. Rugby Union is the only union the players would ever associate themselves with.
—The Coodabeen Champions Take a Good Hard Look at Australia
Rugby Union is a game where large men run at each other and then stomp on each other with spiked boots for 80 minutes.
In league you have six tackles to make it to the end zone. In Union, you have as long as you can keep hold of the ball. Imagine Grid Iron played like that. There would be a lot of running the ball up the gut.
Ladies and gentlemen, Rugby.
The idea is you get the ball and run with it. You are then tackled. Then a variation upon the following happens:
You fall to the ground, and release the ball.
Your mates run in and play stacks on.
The other team runs in and plays stacks on.
You then either try and get the ball out with your feet, and then throw it to your mate and keep playing.
This is called a "ruck".
Only not really. Strangely there are many different ways of playing the game. You can
a) Throw the ball around and run fast. This looks cool. You can score lots of points, but it is risky, if you're not skillful enough, you'll get a neat impact crater in your sternum from someone else's shoulder. Like playing Spread Offense in the NFL.
b) Run the ball up the gut with your forwards (Fat guys). Not so entertaining, but it works.
c) Either kick field goals, or rely on the other team messing up and kicking penalty goals.
d) Kick for field position, by kicking the ball into the other end of the ground making the opposition play the ball out, and hope they cough it up for you.
This may not sound like much, but there are quite a few philosophical approaches to the game which can produce many different results. For newcomers, it can be quite difficult to understand, but no more so than watching NFL for the first time.
Rugby Union is a version of football supposedly started at Rugby School when a player picked up the ball and ran with it. It's played in Britain, France, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, a good proportion of the south Pacific, South Africa, Japan, and even (a little) in the U.S. (A bit of trivia here: the U.S. is the reigning Olympic champion in Rugby Union, having won at the 1924 Summer Olympics, since that was the last time it was an Olympic event). However, Rugby Sevens, a shortened form of Union will be returning to the Olympics in 2016. Neither Fiji or Samoa have ever won an Olympic medal at any sport, so they will be amongst the most ferocious competitors in Rio de Janeiro.
The differences from Rugby League (the football code based on it) are mostly subtle to outsiders. Union has 15-player teams; League has 13-player teams. Union is traditionally the gentlemen's game (though it can be played by women); League is the working-class game. This distinction is only (if ever) true for certain regions (and is the accusation is commonly used by League fans as an insult) heavily averted in Wales and New Zealand among other places.
The differences between both versions of Rugby and American Football are much greater: players wear
much less no body armor, and play continues without interruption and time-outs for much longer. Also no forward passing under any circumstances, you're not allowed to tackle someone not holding the ball and to get the points for a try (think touchdown) you must be holding onto the ball when it is placed onto the ground. (There have been numerous instances of players forgetting about this and spiking the ball.) This applies to both codes.
Also one of several proofs of the non-wussiness of the French, who love the sport and frequently dominate. Interestingly, it surpasses even (association) football in popularity in the southern part of the country.
- One episode of Full Metal Panic has Sōsuke putting the school Rugby team through some extreme training.
- The manga No Side is centered on a terrible university rugby team that has just picked up a girl as its star player. She's the reincarnation of their old captain (sorta).
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life has a Rugby game with students vs teachers.
- Invictus is pretty much about the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
- Rob from Get Fuzzy is a Rugby Union fan, despite being American.
- Rocket Power featured a New Zealander boy named Trent teaching rugby to Otto and his friends.