Rugby, as defined by fans it is considered a sport, but as defined by its players it is life. The jargon of rugby players is rather descriptive, and quite confusing. Like all other sports understanding the language is understanding the game. The knowledge of the argot is vital for the fans and players alike.
At the age of twenty, Christine has been playing rugby for three years. Though never formally introduced to this sport prior to attending the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) as a student, she has gained a love and understanding of rugby through participation. As a Rookie, otherwise known as a first year player, Christine was labeled Rookie of the year, and has since provided her skill to assist the UNR woman’s rugby team to win second place at nationals.
To understanding of the game begins with the language. Like any other sub-culture, rugby has a complete dictionary of its unique terms. “Learning all of the lingo was difficult, it took me about a year to fully understand the language. If you don’t know what they are talking about it is imposable to get the game. Through my travels and experiences with the rugby team I feel that I know most of the jargon used on and off the rugby field. I also feel that I can communicate with rugby players on other teams.
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I feel that I have the most in common with people that share the same position as me, I don’t really know why I guess hookers just stick together!“ Stated Christine during the interview.
Determining the insiders from the outsiders of this sport is not a difficult task, “you either know it or you don’t,” says Christine, “the knowledge of the vocabulary is usually the deciding factor between the insiders and the outsiders.” Many ruggers, or rugby players, feel that determining the difference between the fans and the players is more difficult. Depending on how long the person has been a fan, depends on how much they know about the sport. Christine stated that “in order to be a player, you must first be a fan”.
The words used in rugby are mainly terms, as opposed to slang. The most basic terminology used by all ruggers, on and off the field, is usually an explanation of the game, rules, regulations, and description of the playing apparatus. The pitch is the field in which rugby is played on, this term is mainly used in Europe and rarley used in the United States. The pitch consists of the uprights, which serves as a field goal to rugby, and the tryzone, which acts as an end zone. A try is scored when a player receives the ball in the tryzone. The next method of scoring is a kick, which is when the ball is kicked through the uprights, this can either be done by performing the kick after a try for two points, or any other time throughout the game for three points. A single player of whom scores three trys in a single game is known as performing a hat trick.
The most basic terminology used for setups consist of the players and the positioning of the players. Every rugger is given a position, this position is equivalent to their name when referring to the sport. The use of labels in this recreational group is vital. The lingo of rugby players requires the use of position names to determine the plays and location of the players on the field. The location of a player in a setup is determined by their position.
Every rugger world wide will use the word scrum to describe the setup of the forward pack, otherwise known as the forward players. The scrum is used as a setup following certain penalties. The scrum consists of an eight man set up using three rows of players. The first row contains two props and a hooker. The second row contains two locks in the center and two flankers on the outside of the locks. The third row is the eight man and also a scrum half. The props support the hooker, the flankers support the props and the locks and keep the ball in the scrum. The lock is the driving unit in the scrum, and the hooker uses their feet to hook the ball pushing it toward the eight man of their scrum.
The set up for the backs is the back line, which are players positioned behind the forwards in a diagonal line. The back line consists of a fly half, an inside and an outside center, a wing, a weak side wing, and a full back. The labels of the positions are given to the succession of the diagonal line. The first player in the line is the fly half and the last is the full back.
A line up is and out of bounds setup. This setup consists of the hooker throwing the ball to the jumpers, who are lifted by the props or locks to retrieve the ball and pass it to the scrum half. A jumper is the tallest person in the forward pack. According to the players on the field the scrum half is known as the director. Authority is given to the player with the label of scrum half, allowing that player to have the ability to tell the other players what to do.
Ruggers use words such as ruck and maul, in order to describe a forward motion performed to secure possession of the ball. In order to have a ruck, the ball carrier on the opposing team must by tackled to the ground. A maul is almost the same as a ruck except the ball carrier is still standing. When the opposing team has possession of the ball shouts of encouragement may be heard. “Ruck fowards, ruck” teammates may shout while placed in the setup for an upcoming play.
A common quote among ruggers is, “when a tackle is made, that is when rugby really begins”. A tackle is made when the ball carrier is taken to the ground by a player on the opposing team. With tackles come penalties, illegal actions performed by players, and with penalties come consequences.
It is difficult to find any patterns in the terminology of rugby. Objects are named for what they look like, and other words were made up in order to relate to only this sport.In any case rugby has a unique vocabulary of which is shared world wide.
In any aspect of life, understanding is knowledge, and knowledge is understanding. Language is the backbone of rugby, the understanding of the language is knowing the game. Most of the terms used in rugby are words shared internationally. Rugby consists of a vocabulary, containing a conglomeration of positions, setups, rules and regulations. In the words of Christine, “if you don’t know what they are talking about it is imposable to get the game.”
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