And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

onsdag 2. mars 2011

Get her Legs!

Bards tell of many women valorous
Which haue full many feats aduenturous
Performd, in paragone of proudest men:
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

But now of Britomart it here doth neede,
The hard aduentures and strange haps to tell
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

Ready, ready, ready!

Get her legs!
- Battle cries heard at a women's rugby match.

Today I was accompanying a couple of friends to watch a women's rugby match between Sheffield Hallam and University of York Women's Rugby team. This was my first rugby match ever and I was looking quite forward to it, imagining it would be fun to watch something so very English live in England. One of my friends were playing for the University of York, so for several reasons I cheered for that team. Prognostics did not look too bright, however, since Sheffield Hallam had so far not been defeated.

 I'm not sure whether this is a tree or a giant meerkat.

The University of York team is the one closest to the camera.

The rugby field is situated in a very flat and typically English landscape not too far from the main University campus, rimmed with a ditch, tall, ivy-clad oak trees and other adjacent fields. We stood at the sideline and beheld the spectacle, and I was trying to make sense of the game. One of my friends very kindly gave me a brief, yet thorough, introduction to the game's central aspects and pointed out some particulars during the play, but although it was wonderfully well described I'm unable at this point to give a coherent summary of the rules and particulars of rugby. What I were aware of, however, and what I still find somewhat unsettling, is their almost complete lack of padding or protection. Metaphorically, every single girl in a game like this has more guts than I can ever boast of, and I doubt I would last very long in the midst of these amazons.

I was soon exposed to the brutality of the game and I took myself in making grimaces whenever I heard bodies clash together or whenever I saw the girls being tackled very professionally and put to the ground. When I say brutality this pertains only to the primeval and brute force inherent in the concept; it was not a game of bad sportsmanship or foul play. However, I couldn't help thinking of the various stories of warrior women throughout history. Particularly the spectacle reminded me of a 19th century king in modern-day Nigeria who, like our own Libyan dictator, had a group of female body-guards known to be the fiercest of warriors. I assume this king would have appreciated women's rugby.

Sheffield Hallam quickly gained the upper hand and got the ball across York's goal line about four times within the first fifteen minutes. Each touch-down is, if I remember this correctly, worth five points and additional two points can be gained by kicking the ball through the poles. It quickly became quite evident why Sheffield so far had remained undefeated; some of their girls were quite massive. I do not mean they were fat, but that they were quite muscular and at the same time quite fast. Some of the runs performed by Sheffield players were quite pretty to watch, despite the fact that I cheered for York.

The above phenomenon is known as a scrum or scrummage. The teams are locked together, heads between heads, and the ball is placed on the ground in their midst, whereupon each team tries to coax the ball within grasp of their team-mates. The person at the centre is called a hooker, regardless of gender.

One of the colleges of the university.

The teams are getting ready to catch the ball thrown in from the sideline. One player from each team is hoisted up in order to steal the ball in the air.

In the second half York toughened up a bit and played somewhat more aggressive, but although they played very pretty rugby they could not manage to reclaim Sheffield's lead. I do not know the final score - I lost track after a while - but it was altogether a very nice game of rugby and I'm quite grateful for the experience.

2 kommentarer:

  1. One of my friends was one of Norway's best hookers a couple of years back, regardless, as you say, of gender. (I never connected the dots between those two homonyms, however.) I'm not sure, though, if that says more of her or of Norway's male rugby players.

  2. Given the media attention given to Norwegian rugby, I'd say the question remains quite open, which is kinda sad.