Charge Down

Law 12 of the International Rugby Laws: Charge Down

If a player charges down the ball as an opponent kicks it, or immediately after the kick, it is not a knock-on even though the ball may travel forward.

Too complicated? Not at all – this is a perfect example:


92 Years

On October 9th, 2009, the International Olympic Committee finally voted for Ruby to be included in the Olympic Games again. 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Rugby will be played, 92 years after the last time at the Olympic Games in France in 1924. Way back then the US won Gold (just like at the games in 1920), which did not go down well with the French audience, seeing its team defeated. The following ruckus on the pitch did not help the sport at all and it was removed from the Olympics.

Now Rugby is off to a new start. Even though only Sevens will be played, which might sadden some hard-core fans, for a spectator sport this probably is a good choice. Of course there will be male and female teams – a big difference to 92 years ago. Women teams today are not rare at all and they do exceedingly well.


Maybe even a few of the young women on these teams I watched two weekends ago will be in Rio at the Olympics. Plus my favorite female referee, I hope!

Forever Strong


So the first American movie about rugby opened in selected cinemas on September 26th and of course we went to see it. Normally sport movies are not my thing – I’d rather work or do other things than sit and stare at a screen watching some actors pretending to be athletes; but once again, with this being the first US film featuring rugby – so, yes, that was a must.

First things first: the movie was not as bad as expected.  It certainly is not a highlight in the history of cinema, just a pleasant run-of-the-mill story about sport being a way of redemption for some troubled young man.

But – and this is what made the film enjoyable, leaving the slightly cookie cutter-story aside –  the rugby scene were marvelous (as they should be, especially as real All-American rugby players were involved). Yes, I know, editing and sound mix and whatnot do play their part; still, these scenes were so great, I could watch the film all over again.

Really – even though I do not like sport movies.

Start Them Young…

…then see what happens. This applies to all sports, but for Rugby in SoCal this formula has shown amazing results. In 29 youth clubs located between San Diego and San Luis Obispo more than 2,000 players aged between 5 and 18 are active. They love the sport, the camaraderie, the ability to get involved in a game which is very physical and at the same time based on respect for the rules and the opponent.

One opportunity to see the results of the careful nurturing of young players is the FYR High School Rugby International Invitational in Fullerton. This year the tournament was held during the Easter weekend and it was truly an international event:


Teams from California, Utah, Oregon, Wisconsin, Australia and Canada took part in two days of exceptionally good rugby. More than 700 young players were present to play and to pit their strength against each other.

Quite remarkable was the fact that so many girls teams took part in the tournament; even more so, that five female teams from Canada were present. Apparently this was a first in the history of High School Rugby tournaments in all of the US.


In the finals the Boys Cup went to the LA Cougars, the Girls Cup to the Columneetza Team from British Columbia.

They all started young and now they are the new breed helping to build the presence of Rugby in the US.

An Evening With The Terminator (No Politics Involved)

One of the occasions when the rugby community in SoCal defies all preconception of what a rugby players looks like is the Griffin Awards Ceremony and Rugby Ball. The players (female and male) attend in elegant evening attire, raucous rugger songs are replaced by gentle background music, wine and cocktails are being sipped instead of beer.

An outsider might perhaps notice that most of the attending guests do look rather fit and athletic, more so than one would usually expect to see in a ballroom; but apart from that they do not look one iota different from any nicely turned out crowd one expects when attending a ball.

A very enjoyable occasion it was, this 2007 ceremony. One of the highlights was the guest speaker, Mr. Jerry Collins, aka “The Terminator” of the New Zealand All Blacks.


To meet such an outstanding world-class rugby player is really something to write home about. Especially when the meeting happens in a ballroom and not on the pitch. After all, “The Terminator” carries his nickname for a reason.

The Invisible Sport

Considering that the US is the reigning Olympic rugby champion, the sport itself is rather invisible. If you now do a double take and say “what?” – this fact is little known outside of rugby circles, but true.

Rugby was played at the Olympics in 1900 (Paris), 1908 (London), 1920 (Antwerp) and 1924 (Paris). 1920 the US team competed for the first time. There were only two teams, France and USA; the US team won. 1924 three teams played, France, the US and Romania. The US team won again, whereupon some nasty fighting started in the stadium. One US player was even struck down with a walking stick. When finally the American anthem was played, general jeering started.

After 1924 rugby was struck from the list of Olympic sports and never reintroduced. Hence, the US is to this day… well, I already mentioned that.

Rugby is truly an invisible sport in the US. Which does not mean that it is nonexistent. It is just not on the radar for many people, even though there are so many clubs around. A complete list of just the clubs in California can be seen here.

My favorite team logo is the one of Eagle Rock:


It is witty on so many levels and always makes me smile.