As one stumbles around the internet and life, you accidentally learn a few things about rugby. Here are some things about the game I learned recently.
1. Between 1750 and 1823, rules permitted handling of the ball, but no-one was allowed to run with it in their hands towards the opposition’s goal.
(Until Pollard and Lambie, Bok number 10s still adhered to this rule).
2. When the first Australian team left for the 1908 UK tour, they were called “the Rabbits” but it was not popular with the players and didn’t last long.
3. Western Province was founded as a club in 1876 but by the late 1870s the club had ceased to exist due to lack of support.
4. Idi Amin and Che Guevara played rugby. So did Bill Clinton.
5. According to Oscar Wilde “rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the centre of the city.”
6. The Northern Territory didn’t have a rugby competition until October 1976 when a six-team competition started and the NT Rugby Union was founded.
7. To compete with the Haka, the Boks and Wallabies both initiated indigenous war cries, one Zulu-based the other an Aboriginal inspired war-dance. Neither lasted.
8. The Wallabies initially played in a sky blue jumper in Sydney and a maroon jumper in Brisbane. Then the jumper was combined into sky blue and maroon hoops with a silver kangaroo-shaped lapel.
9. From the fifth to 16th century mob football was played between neighbouring towns and villages, involving an unlimited number of players. They still do this in Alnwick in Northumberland, Ashbourne in Derbyshire and Atherstone in Warwickshire.
10. The Maroons are called the “Maroans.” Aldrin and Armstrong would be disappointed to learn that Australians think they were the first men on the moan. (How did moon as in maroon become maroan?)
11. NSW vs All Blacks in 1924, Country Life Stock reported that after the Haka… “the silence of the crowd now was intense. There is something about that war cry that appeals to the primitive in us. After it, the Blues responded with a war cry that relieved the intensity and roars of laughter came from all around. Even the All Blacks laughed.”
12. Until 1874 Rugby had 20 players in a side.
13. Adam Coleman was born in Tasmania. His father Pau’u Afeaki and first cousin Inoke Afeaki are former Tongan captains. Other first cousins are Wallaby Rodney Blake and All Black Ben Afeaki.
What stuff don’t you know?