“You Have To Get The Ball Over That Line By Throwing It Backwards”

Here is the post I didn’t have time for yesterday, featuring the Six Nations rugby match between Wales and Ireland.

The primary aim of a game of rugby is to score as many tries as possible by

grounding the ball on the opposite side of the opponents’ goal line.

The try notches up 5 points. Afterwards the best place kicker has the opportunity to convert this to 7 by kicking the ball over the bar and between the goal posts.

The referee, in the white shirt is there to ensure fair play, to interpret the rules, and to make decisions about points scoring.

We now, with the benefit of technology, have the Television Match Official who, having access to replays, has the task, at his request, of aiding the on field referee.

The grounding must be controlled and the feet inside the touchline. The score above was legitimate.

The ball carrier may be tackled by an opposition player. There are strict rules about the execution of this.

One of the consequences of an infringement is the set scrum. This is where two packs of forwards, each weighing in total 850/950 kilos, shove against each other to gain mastery and possession of the ball which is tossed into the middle by the scrum half, seen in green in the first picture, and red in the second. This can eat up 5 minutes of playing time.

Loose scrums. rucks, and, mauls result in less choreographed tussles.

These pieces, with or without the intervention of the referee, are followed by a lining up of the three quarter backs, one of whom will pass the ball along while the opposition attempt to dispossess them. It was this passing process that in 1965 prompted my late brother Chris, accompanying Jackie on her first time of watching me play, to utter the memorable one line explanation; “You have to get the ball over that line by throwing it backwards.” Although players may kick the ball ahead, a forward pass is not allowed.

Medical assistance is essentially on hand. This player struggled on fo a while before having to leave the field.

This one, captain Jonathon Sexton, had no choice. Despite his reluctance he had to go off for a compulsory Head Injury Assessment.

Earlier, he was the first of the faces I pictured in this gallery. His opposing captain, facing him, sporting a black eye, has plaster on his ear.

The masked supporters could not show theirs.

This scene reminded me of the season in which I lost three contact lenses in a fortnight. I then gave them up on the grounds that there is a limit to the number of times one can have 30 men in rugby kit crawling around in the mud in search of them.


  1. I like to watch Rugby but still have nightmares about playing it. I went to school in Rugby where it was compulsory torture. If you didn’t play rugby you had to go on a cross country run. I became quite a good runner.

      1. Fortunately itโ€™s not stopped my participation in anything other than rugby and the highly competitive south london mixed all abilities pogoing challenge.

  2. I loved this – as I enjoy rugby. Only one of my sons played the game and I keep in touch with it through his passion for watching it on television (cricket too) ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I thank you for the explanation, Derrick, but I think this game is a bit too injury-prone for my taste. Looking at the man eating grass in the third picture gave me a hint that more of the same and worse is coming. I shall stick to football.

  4. Lovers of proper sport will never agree on which is god, or better, or best. All that to the side I am not of fan of the TV official who can overrule the on field umpire. The whole idea of ‘accepting the umpire’s ruling’ seems to have been thrown out – not just in sport but in life in general. and in US politics.

  5. I used to be qualified as a referee in both codes of rugby. I did it to learn the laws, but always avoided officiating. I just can’t run, see everything and interpret the rules at the same time.

    The photo of the bandaging brought a smile to my face. The laws, until quite recently, stated clearly that lifting at the line-out was illegal (despite the fact they had been doing it for years) but at the back there was a note about the legal size for the lifting blocks that could be taped to the legs.

    They did eventually amend that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. OH! What action! What intensity! What heart! And I must add…what handsome lads!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’m so glad you only lost contact lenses, Derrick, and not a body part! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Looks like a sport that is ripe for injuries.
    HA! Love your brother’s explanation. ๐Ÿ™‚
    One time at her first American football game a female friend of mine asked me, “Why do the men wearing the black pants, striped white and black shirts throw their handkerchiefs on the grass?” HA! ๐Ÿ˜€
    (((HUGS))) ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I reckon rugby at international level must be the toughest sport without significant body protection. They are hard men to be playing such a physical sport without helmets, huge shoulder pads and so on. It’s also an enormously popular sport at amateur level. it must be said.

  8. Ah, ha! Another word figured out: ‘scrum.’ I’ll never play (and probably won’t watch) either sport, but with ‘sticky wicket’ and ‘scrum’ tucked away, I can at least show some familiarity!

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