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Rugby is an interesting sport. It’s sort of a mixture of football and soccer. It seems it has been gaining some popularity in recent years here in the Knoxville area. So much so, that in recent years a need was seen and now has been meet for a park that has dedicated rugby fields. This is the Tennessee Rugby Park just outside of Karns on Oak Ridge Highway. If you’ve never watched a rugby game, let me try and explain some of the rules or alternatively visit this page http://www.smacrugby.com/Info/spectator.htm.
It’s like football in that the goal is to carry a pigskin ball (larger and less aerodynamic than a football) to the goal or kick it through the goal posts. It’s like soccer in that play only stops when a team scores, an infraction happens, the ball goes out of bounds, or it is the end of the half. It’s a little different than football in that a forward pass is illegal. The only ways to advance the ball forward is to run with it or kick it. A player can pass the ball laterally or behind them, but never forward. Like soccer, the players must always stay onside. If they go offside, they can not touch the ball until a player with the ball runs past them making them onside again. Unlike football, there is no blocking, so long runs can make a player really vulnerable. When a player is tackled (waist high and below only), they must give up possession of the ball by placing it on the ground. Sometimes a teammate or opponent can just pick it up and take possession. Other times, you’ll see a ruck form. A ruck is really similar to a scrum, scrums just happen after play was stopped. When these form, you will typically see the forwards from both teams huddle up around the ball and push the opposing team out of the way all while trying to use their feet to push the ball back to one of the backs. Each side will have 15 players on the field, 8 forwards and 7 backs. All players are eligible to move the ball, either by running or kicking. When the ball goes out of bounds, a line out is formed. The team that didn’t put the ball out of bounds is awarded the ball and throws the ball in. This is why you see the players try and lift one of their players up real high.
Now for the scoring. There are only four ways a side can score. The first way is to place the ball on the ground after crossing the goal line. This is called a try. 5 points are awarded for a successful try. After a try, a conversion kick is attempted. This is worth 2 points. The placement of the ball is determined where the ball was placed after the successful try. This is why you’ll often see a player cross the goal line and then try to run towards the center. The third way is a drop-kick. This would be similar to the punting a field goal in football. The fourth way to score is a penalty kick. It is a drop-kick from the spot of an infraction. Both the drop-kick and penalty kick are worth 3 points.
That’s really just the basics. I’m sure there are things I’m missing because I’m really starting to learn the sport too. Another thing I’m still learning is the nuances of my recently bought Canon 7D. I wanted to primarily shoot with the 7D and the 300mm f/2.8L IS with a 1.4x Teleconverter on it. This allowed me to shot the entire game from behind the goal area. Unfortunately, that means I didn’t see hardly any action the first half. Farragut was always moving the ball the opposite direction. The easy solution would have been to go to the other side, but then I would been fighting the sun. I opted to keep the sun to my back and hope Bearden would come my way. I don’t know the final score, but it was a blowout by Farragut.