Just Above Sunset
August 15, 2004 - The Apolitical Side of Rugby

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In The Bad-Boy Vote you will find a discussion of George Bush’s undergraduate years at Yale, what someone who knew him there has to say about it, and the photo from the Yale yearbook of Bush punching out a rival player in a rugby game.

Bob Harris at the website This Modern World published the photo and made some comments about the game.


Incidentally, while rugby is a contact sport, every player knows that tackling above the shoulders is a foul. So is leaving your feet during a tackle. Either of these is serious enough that the other team is immediately awarded a penalty kick, often directly resulting in points for the other team.

So even without throwing a punch, Bush is already well outside fair play.

Grasping an opponent by the back of the head and punching him in the face is beyond the pale - I've watched rugby avidly for years, and I've never seen it during an open-field tackle like this, honest - and will typically result in a player being immediately sent off.


And I said this… Rugby has rules?  Yeah, I suppose it does.

My friend Joseph, the expatriate fellow now living in France, doesn't much care for the game and said this –


I've seen a lot of rugby over here, and while a good sport, playing it doesn't much impress me. Having played a bit of both, let me assure you that despite the padding, American football is a lot rougher, and would have most rugby players crying in ten minutes.


Had Bush played varsity football at Yale, would things have worked out differently? Perhaps – but a useless speculation.

And I commented to Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, that I found Rugby an odd sport.  He likes the game.  His reply?


In France rugby is an elite sport in the sense that it isn't professional, it is played 'for sport.' The guys who play it regularly are very tough - mostly stonemasons from the Pyrenees. No wimpy Parisians. Some rugby players are fragile little guys - fast sneaky guys who flummox the oxen. They try to stay untouchable - for their health.

What's so odd about it? It's a faster, rougher game than US football. It moves more. It's not static. It's fluid. There are fewer set pieces - more flow. A lot of chance happens in it. While the stonemasons are in a tangled heap, some little guy gets the ball and runs half the field with it - with not a touch on him. The game doesn't stop for commercial breaks. They can't flash them in like they do with soccer because there's usually too much happening.


Okay, I’ll have to look into rugby.



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....