Sunday, April 27, 2008

Scrum Bums

It's been a sporty couple of weeks for me. Football last week, followed seven days later by rugby, live from Twickenham Stadium, home of English Rugby. And with a trip to see cricket last summer, we've now done the triple crown of quintessentially English sports.

Saturday's game was a European Cup semi-final match between London Irish (who play in Reading) and Toulouse (who play in, probably, Toulouse, as in France). Since it was a high-level match, it was played at a theoretically neutral ground, although it was clear Irish fans dominated the stands. Would that it were so on the pitch.

Here you see one of the more interesting plays, a "line out," (click for better detail), the equivalent of an in-bounds throw in basketball. There's lots of feinting and pumping of the ball on a line-out play, as both team scan lift a player up into the air to catch it (or knock it loose), so anticipation is key.

These photos are as rubbish as last week's football photos, but bear with me. They were taken with my iPhone.

The truly quintessential rugby play, the scrum. Which is what happens when one team fumbles the ball forward (a penalty called a "knock on.") The team who didn't fumble gets to toss the ball into the two tons of snorting humanity, usually to his side's favor. I had an American say he didn't understand a scrum. I described as being the same as a jump ball in basketball: It's how you decide possession after play has stopped for a specific reason. Not so much anymore in basketball, I suppose.

And after a hard-fought Toulouse victory--their side was favored, although the outcome was not clear until the final whistle as Irish, down by a try kept, pushing toward their goal--you see that the fans can get along, with the green Irish flags and the red Toulouse fans flying side-by-side. Not like football at all.

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Blogger Sarah said...

ruck and scrum - my two favo(u)rite rugby words! Glad you had fun... my hubby will be jealous!

4:13 AM  

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