Rugby Union is a game where large men run at each other and then stomp on each other with spiked boots for 80 minutes.
- Cracked.comIn league you have six tackles (think downs) to make it to the end zone. In Union, you have as long as you can keep hold of the ball. Imagine Grid Iron played like that. There would be a lot of running the ball up the gut. Ladies and gentlemen, Rugby. The idea is you get the ball and run with it. You are then tackled. Then a variation upon the following happens:
You fall to the ground, and release the ball.
Your mates run in and play stacks on.
The other team runs in and plays stacks on.
This is called a "ruck".
You then try to get the ball out with your feet, assuming you are not already paralyzed from the neck down, and then throw it to your mate and keep playing.
Simple. Only not really. Strangely there are many different ways of playing the game. You can
a) Throw the ball around and run fast. This looks cool. You can score lots of points, but it is risky. If you're not skillful enough, you'll get a neat impact crater in your sternum from someone else's shoulder. Like playing Spread Offense in the NFL.
b) Run the ball up the gut with your forwards (fat guys). Not so entertaining, but it works.
c) Either kick field goals, or rely on the other team messing up and kicking penalty goals.
d) Kick for field position by kicking the ball into the other end of the ground making the opposition play the ball out, and hope they cough it up for you.
This may not sound like much, but there are quite a few philosophical approaches to the game which can produce many different results. For newcomers, it can be quite difficult to understand, but no more so than watching NFL for the first time. Rugby Union is a version of football supposedly started at Rugby School in Warwickshire when a player picked up the ball and ran with it. It's played in Britain, France, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, a good proportion of the south Pacific, South Africa, Japan, and even (a little) in the U.S. (A bit of trivia here: the U.S. is the reigning Olympic champion in Rugby Union, having won at the 1924 Summer Olympics, since that was the last time it was an Olympic event). However, Rugby Sevens, a shortened form of Union will be returning to the Olympics in 2016. Neither Fiji or Samoa have ever won an Olympic medal at any sport, and both are among the strongest sevens nations, so they will be amongst the most ferocious competitors in Rio de Janeiro. The differences from Rugby League (the football code based on it) are mostly subtle to outsiders. Union has 15-player teams; League has 13-player teams. Union is traditionally the gentlemen's game (though it can be played by women); League is the working-class game. This distinction is only (if ever) true for certain regions (and the accusation is commonly used by League fans as an insult), and averted in Wales and New Zealand among other places. The differences between both versions of Rugby and American Football are much greater: players wear no body armor, and play continues without interruption and time-outs for much longer. Also, no forward passing under any circumstances, you're not allowed to tackle someone not holding the ball and to get the points for a try (think touchdown) you must be holding onto the ball when it is placed onto the ground. (There have been numerous instances of players forgetting about this and spiking the ball.) This applies to both codes. Also one of several proofs of the non-wussiness of the French, who love the sport and frequently dominate. Interestingly, it surpasses even (association) football in popularity in the southern part of the country (particularly the région of Midi-Pyrénées, which despite being cobbled together from disparate provinces to create a région for Toulouse to call its own has developed a strong identity around rugby). Major international competitions
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