By Cara De Carlo
Saturday was a rugby day.
What the hell does that mean?
Kids, I used to play rugby. Yes, rugby: the game where 20 people seem to be looking for one contact lens, and then trying to kill each other. The photos of me playing rugby are brilliant, because you don’t know I’m running AWAY.
Fortunately for everyone involved, I stopped playing the game and started enjoying it. What you might not know about rugby is that it’s not just a game. It’s an entire culture, and it has its own holiday: the sixth day of the week. Here’s what all rugby rookies should learn:
1. A 7s Tournament Is Not a Card Game.
During the summer, rugby is played in fast, 14-minute games with only seven on a side. This is because the missing eight are in a hospital. But the quick format with smaller teams allows for a lot of teams to get together and play a great tournament.
Here’s what you can expect by the pitch…
“I thought it was guys … in striped shirts … and you always had to play in the mud,” said Kelly. Kelly plays for Baton Rouge Women’s Rugby, same as I did.
Kristen added to this: “You can hate somebody on the field, and [then] you go to the party and it’s like nothing ever happened!”
Kelly nodded. “You’re friends,” she says.
Some guys in the green-and-yellow New Orleans colors passed by.
“No slapping!” said one.
“I don’t have a shirt on.”
Other players talked of other tournaments:
“…did shots of 151 and hot sauce!”
“One of our guys passed out with both doors open … in the middle of Birmingham!”
“Wow,” came the reply. “One of our guys went to jail when we were in Birmingham!”
See? The atmosphere was awesome. Best of all: it wasn’t Birmingham.
2. The Action’s Like Tiger Football on Fast-Forward.
Here, let me show you:
At 2 p.m., Baton Rouge Women’s Rugby faced New Orleans. Kaufmann-Swang kicked the ball for B.R., and N.O. recovered. A maul attempt by Baton Rouge resulted in a stoppage in play. N.O. took the ball deep into the B.R. end, but a kick by Kaufmann-Swang brought B.R. the distance. B.R. recovered close to the try zone, and French scored early in the game’s first half.
As fast as Baton Rouge scored, the game was reset. B.R. kicked to New Orleans, followed by a scrum in Baton Rouge’s own end. The ball was forced out at the 5. There was a line-out to inbound the ball, and Baton Rouge took possession at the 10. A Galliano-to-Crouch pass resulted in a forward call, and play stopped once again. I, in turn, paced nervously and broke two pens.
The half ended with Baton Rouge up. So New Orleans kicked, but it required a do-over. Baton Rouge recovered, but not definitively.This began Baton Rouge’s defensive battle to the finish. New Orleans kept the ball in Baton Rouge’s end, but French registered two pivotal tackles within a minute of each other. There were three scrum-downs and a maul attempt, but all Baton Rouge needed was possession. They got it on the third scrum-down…
Galliano passed the ball to Kaufmann-Swang, who paused to find the gap. She found it, and sprinted 70m for the try. This game ended with a score of 14-0 Baton Rouge over New Orleans, but New Orleans had certainly put up a fight.
You shoulda been there…
On the men’s side, game play continued in the tournament pool.
“We won our first one and had a draw for our second,” said Mike Dellafiora of Team BR1, “so we kinda need to beat the dog sh–t outta these cats.”
Well, BR1 did win that match (against Galveston), putting them at the top of their pool for the semifinals. Scoring tries for BR1 were Molina, Kelso, Tabor, Somers, and Kelso again.
Said Kaufmann-Swang about Kelso: “He’s awesome at rugby … AND sex!”
On that note…
3. With Rugby, There’s Always a Social
And I don’t mean a cooler of beers and orange wedges. BR1 won the tournament, but the party was for all. In Baton Rouge, this means a certain bar under a certain overpass.
This year’s theme was “Redneck.” One thing about rugby parties – there is always a theme. It’s never just Saturday if it can be Toga Day or Trashy Versions of Bible People Day. (OK, that last one I may have made up – for now.)
Anyway, I showed up in my T-shirt and jeans, but everyone else had on cutoffs, overalls, T-shirts without sleeves … in general, it was clothing without limbs.
I didn’t want to stand out too much, so immediately I started drinking. Besides, it only improves the other traditions.
I wasn’t too far in the bag when I heard the whole bar start to sing: “Heyyy, Zulu War-rior!” and I knew to get out of the way.
Fast as the Phillies considered Halladay, a guy and a girl came sprinting through the barroom naked. They went into the hall, startled the guests on the other side, and ran back out the door from which they came.
I assure you this is normal, because every time new players score their first try, they have to get naked at the party. And why shouldn’t they? I often find that I, too, am naked when I score…
There is one final tradition of a Saturday Rugby Day that I have to tell you about. It’s the songs. When the people are just drunk enough, it seems like a good idea to sing a standard battery of rugby-camp songs. This includes hits such as “If I Were the Marrying Kind” and “The Days of the Week.” (Guess what kind of day is Saturday!)
That night, a guy from one of the visiting teams stepped up to lead the songs. But his arm was in a sling, making it impossible to do all the required vulgar gestures. Thus, he was forced to “Shoot the boot!”
Ever see a man in a sling chug beer from a moldy, old, cowboy boot? Wait, you have? Sh–t, I’m going to lunch with you from now on…
4. Mark It on Your Calendar
OK, so you missed the 7s tournament this year, but now that you know all about it, you can plan to go the next time it’s in town. Remember, games are at BREC’s Highland Road Park. It’s Baton Rouge Rugby, baby. GET SOME.
The average 7s tournament is played in 7,000-degree heat. This causes the ball to become coated in a frictionless mixture of sweat and SPF. In scientific terms, no one can hang on to the greasy motherf–ker…