“He’s Taken A Knock In His Undercarriage”


This afternoon rugby’s autumn internationals began. On television I watched Scotland v Samoa; Wales v Australia; and the highlights of England v Argentina. I made a few photographs direct from the screen, cropping out the score lines from the top left hand corners in order not to reveal the results to anyone who has recorded the matches.

Scotland v Samoa 1

Here, in the first match, a player who has been tackled attempts to release the ball;

Scotland v Samoa 2

this time it has been released.

Scotland v Samoa 4

Here the chase is on,

Scotland v Samoa 5

ending with a tussle on the touchline.

Scotland v Samoa 6

Wales v Australia 6

Certain infringements result in the setting of scrums where the opposing two sets of eight forwards bind onto each other pushing for possession of the ball tossed between them by the scrum half, here standing poised;

Scotland v Samoa 11

and here placing the ball into the mêlée.

Scotland v Samoa 9

There are strict rules of engagement determining how the teams pack down, demanding a pause at each stage.

Scotland v Samoa 7

Sometimes loose scrums form in play. The ball is then sent back to one’s own side.

Wales v Australia 7

It is the scrum half’s job to pick it up and pass it back along the line of players.

England v Argentina 6

This is how the teams position themselves when there has been a scrum wrestling over possession.

Scotland v Samoa 10

Tries are scored when the ball is grounded

England v Argentina 7

across the opposing goal line.

Scotland v Samoa 17

Sometimes it is reasonably clear that that has happened;

Scotland v Samoa 8

at others it is rather less than apparent.

Scotland v Samoa 13

The man on the ground, having been scragged, has managed here to pass the ball to a team member who is heading for the try, or goal, line. The referee, in order to keep up with the game, is in hot pursuit.

Scotland v Samoa 18

A try is worth five points. Two more may be added by placing the ball on a tee

Scotland v Samoa 14

and kicking it

Scotland v Samoa 15

between the goal posts above the cross bar to perform a conversion.

Scotland v Samoa (Finn Russell)

Careful concentration is required

Wales v Australia 1 (Leigh Halfpenny)

from the specialists who perform this task.

Scotland v Samoa 12

Instructions are periodically mouthed from behind the ball in order to prevent lip-reading.

Scotland v Samoa 19

Team mates generally attempt to pound along in support of those with

England v Argentina 4

or chasing the ball.

Scotland v Samoa 20

Occasionally one man will get clean away

Wales v Australia 9

on his own;

England v Argentina 5

or have a cluster of opposition players between him and his support.

Wales v Australia 2

Hands and feet compete with each other over the ball.

Wales v Australia 3

When the ball has been kicked into touch, or out of play, the two sets of forwards line up alongside each other, it is then thrown between them and caught by one of the players who may be lifted to aid his jump.

Wales v Australia 4

When spectators spot themselves on the large television screen at the ground, they generally attempt to catch the attention of their friends at home.

Wales v Australia 8

Others check out their own photographs on their mobile devices.

Scotland v Samoa 16

It is quite usual for medical attention to be required. Injuries may be comparatively slight;

Wales v Australia 10

if a player is bleeding he must leave the field to be stitched up and/or bandaged, and may be temporarily replaced by ‘a blood replacement’.

Wales v Australia 5

Medics may step onto the field to assess damage and offer assistance. When this gentleman took a break, the commentator offered the opinion that he had “taken a knock in his undercarriage”.

Wales v Australia 11

The opposing players may be tackled by wrapping arms around them as you charge into them.

England v Argentina 3

This cannot be above shoulder height.

England v Argentina 1

It is not permitted to tackle a player in the air;

England v Argentina 2

and if you up-end him you are responsible for his landing safely.

For those unfamiliar with our more civilised national game, I hope this has made it a little more comprehensible.

This evening Jackie and I dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away with which I drank more of the malbec.


Tackled In Vain


Pass in the air

Today’s set of scanned colour negatives from October 1992 is of Newark Rugby Club Under Thirteens v. Paviors. Here, the home side’s scrum half gets the ball away as he hits the deck. This is the player whose job is to receive the oval ball from the scrum and pass it on.

Passing the ball

This time it is a Paviors player who makes a pass.

Gumshield wearer with ball 1Gumshield wearer with ball 2

One determined Newark lad seems to have a loose gum shield;

A Pavior passing

another’s tackle fails to prevent a Pavior pass.

Break by fullback

Here the home full back charges into the opposition. The full back is the last line of defence, and will often consider attack to be the best option.

Chasing the ball carrier

This targeted chase

A tackle

results in a successful tackle,

Breaking with the ball

whereas this fleet lad eludes one.

Chasing gumshield wearer

Oh. Oh. There goes that gum shield again.

Tackling the gumshield wearer

and again.

Sam breaks

Although you can’t see it, Sam, with the knee-strapping, has actually made a break with the ball.

Breaking with the ball

Contrary to appearances, the referee is not about to tackle this red-head,

Facing a tackle

although this opposition member is.

No 12 has the ball

Number 12. in the centre, has the ball here.

Receiving a pass

Such an effort goes into this tackle, but the Newark player still makes a successful pass.

A pass

Here is another.

In the actionGetting away

Breaking with the ball 3

When a player gets clean away with the ball we term it a break.

Legs in ruck

This is what a worm’s eye view of a scrum looks like. Note the strapped knee,

Sam tackled

belonging to Sam, who, defending manfully, is tackled,

Sam tackled early

passes the ball, and is then tackled late. A tackle is deemed late when the scragged player  no longer holds the ball on impact.  Given the amount of opposition bearing down on the Newark line, the ensuing penalty comes in rather handy.

Girls in changing room

Rugby cheerleaders wear warm clothing and often repair to the pavilion to do something more interesting.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s fiery pork paprika, wild rice, and steaming broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014.