Frans Schimper, fullback, on Rugby Traditions:
When I was asked to write a blog on rugby traditions two things came to mind. One, I am probably the worst writer known to mankind, and two, there are hundreds of traditions in this great game we call rugby. Where do I start? What country will I focus on first? What exactly should I consider a “tradition”?
I grew up in South Africa, so I thought it best to start with the latter part of my rugby playing career–the past 7 years of being part of rugby in the United States. Here are some traditions that come to mind:
1) Singing – this might the most universal tradition that we have in rugby. No matter what country you are in, if you go to a rugby game or to the social event (see point #2) after the game, there will be singing. Songs are used by the fans during the game as a way to unite everyone at the game, players use songs in the locker room to celebrate a win, and there are even some teams that will sing a song after a loss as a peace offering to their gods to apologize for disappointing them on the field that day.
2) The Social – this usually takes place after the game and is hosted by the home team. At a rugby social a number of events can take place. Food is being cooked, drinks are being poured and more likely than not it will lead to #1, singing. You can expect to see a “boat race”, a “Zulu”, someone “Shoot the Boot”, and a group of men acting like juveniles.
During a Boat Race, 5 members from each team go head to head in pouring ice cold beer down their throats to the roaring cheers of those not so lucky to be picked for the drinking team. This race is usually started by having…. (well for you to see how it is started, why don’t you just do yourself a favor and get to the next social event).
The honor of performing a Zulu is bestowed on a player who scored his first try (similar to a touchdown) in his/her career. The player lucky enough to experience this life changing event will strip down and make a lap through the bar, around the building or through a parking lot in his/her birthday suits while their team mate sing to them, pour beer on them, and if they are lucky, not hide their clothes.
Shooting the Boot is usually a form of punishment. You either messed up the line to a song, took a shower after the game and came to the social smelling like your aunt Paula on her way to church, or you did something so egregious on the field that day that you deserve the “boot”. Usually a boot (pair of cleats), that was played in that day will be filled with beer, and the honor is placed on you to drink your next beer from that beautiful, stinky, sweaty, moldy boot.
3) Nick Names – the easiest way to get a nick name is to do something silly. You might spill your drink a lot, and for the rest of your life you will be called “Sloppy”, or a very sensitive guy might be known as “Princess” to his friends, or if you resemble a very famous movie character you shall be known as “Billy Bob”. These are names given to you by your team mates, and trust me, they will stick with you for years. You can forget to hear your name on the field—listen for Princess, Sloppy or Billy Bob.
4) Sportsmanship and Camaraderie – it seems strange that with a violent sport those two words can be used in a sentence but they are two words that the game would not exist without. Don’t get me wrong, for 80 minutes there are 30 players on the field and they want to do nothing more than play harder and with more intimidation than their opponents. Rugby is a violent sport, but what makes the game safe is the way we play, we adhere to the rules, you listen to one man controlling 30 louts barking at each other. I was taught from a young age that what happens on the field, stays on the field. Remember. “They say football is a hooligan’s game played by hooligans. Soccer is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans. Rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.”
The sense of camaraderie on any team is the heart of your team. Your team will only be as strong as the brotherhood you create on your team. You make life long friends, find room mates, a best man for your wedding and if you play for the Carnivores you might even find your next boyfriend on the team.
So with that said I think that covers some of the more popular, and definitely not all traditions in the United States. As this blog evolves I will cover more topics about traditions in the States and also from all over the world.
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