When I tell people I like it rough they almost never guess I am talking about rugby—but they should. Rugby is rough but that is part of the fun. Where else do 30 guys get to descend on a pitch, grab each other by the short-shorts, grunt and tackle each other?

Rugby is such an exhilarating sport to play that I can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t want to be part of the fun. In fact, Esquire Magazine’s list of “75 Things Every Man Should Do,” ranked playing rugby as number one on the list.

With rugby’s biennial Bingham Cup coming up in Nashville this May, I wanted to give you some rugby basics in advance. While you won’t learn rugby in 17 facts, it is just enough to make for fun discussion around the water cooler.

1. There are two types of rugby—Rugby Union and Rugby League.  Ben Cohen played Rugby Union, Ian Roberts played Rugby League and Gareth Thomas played both. This article is about Rugby Union. Clear, right?
2. A Rugby field is called a “pitch.”
3. Each team fields 15 players at a time unless they are playing a modified version called “sevens” where each team fields only seven players.
4. Team players are divided into two distinct groups — forwards and backs.
5. Forwards are the muscles behind the team and backs steal the glory from them (guess to which group I belong).
6. There is a position called “hooker” and a player can be called a “whore.” Honestly, who wouldn’t want to play a fun game like this, I ask you!
7. Backs are the speed behind the team.
8. You can’t throw the ball forward in rugby (well, you can but a penalty will be called).
9. You can throw the ball sideways (lateral and backwards).
10. You can also kick the ball forward.
11. If the ball bounces forward off you, however, a penalty will be called.
12. A score is called a try.
13. A try happens when the ball is pushed down on the ground in the “try zone.”
14. A successful try is worth five points.
15. A successful conversion kick after a try is worth two points.
16. And if you really want to learn how to play rugby, read the Rookie Primer 2.0 by the San Francisco Fog RFC (http://www.sffog.org/guides/Rookie_Primer_2.0.pdf). But for the most fun, I recommend getting onto the pitch and giving it a go to get a “try” (get it?).
17. Above all, for a grand time with rugby, attend this year’s Bingham Cup in Nashville, May 26-29 that is being hosted by the Nashville Grizzlies RFC. For details, visit www.grizzliesrugby.org. You really will enjoy it!

P.S. About the Esquire piece — I do disagree with it on one point. I think every woman should play rugby, too!


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