• Twitter

  • The history of the backs - by a forward.

    It is largely unknown to players and followers of the modern game that rugby started off purely as a contest for forwards in opposition in line-outs, scrums, rucks and mauls. This pitted eight men of statuesque physique, supreme fitness and superior intelligence in packs against one another.

    In those days, the winner was the pack that won the most set pieces. The debasement of the game began when backs were introduced. This occurred because a major problem was where to locate the next scrum or line- out.

    Selecting positions on the ground for these had become a constant source of friction and even violence. The problem was resolved by employing forward rejects, men of small stature and limited intelligence, to run aimlessly around within the field of play.

    Following a set piece, the ball would be thrown to one of them, who would establish the next location either by dropping it or by throwing it to another reject for dropping. Very occasionally, a third reject would receive the ball before it would be dropped, and crowds would wildly cheer on these rare occasions. Initially these additional players were entirely disorganized but with the passing of time they adopted set positions.

    For instance, take the half-back. He was usually one of the smallest and least intelligent of the backs whose role was simply to accept the ball from a forward and to pass it on to one of the other rejects who would drop it, providing the new location for the forwards to compete. He could easily (given his general size) have been called a quarter forward or a ball monkey but then tolerance and compassion are the keys to forward play and the present euphemism was decided on.

    The five-eighth plays next to the half-back and his role is essentially the same except that when pressured, he usually panics and kicks the ball. Normally, he is somewhat taller and slightly better built than the half-back, hence his name. One-eighth less and he would have been a half-back, three-eighths more and he might well have qualified to become a forward.

    The centres were opportunists who had no expertise but wanted to share in the glamour associated with forward packs, after repeated supplication to the forwards for a role in the game they would be told to get out in the middle of the field and wait for instructions. Thus, when asked where they played, they would reply "in the centre". They remain to this day, parasites and scroungers who mostly work as lawyers or used car dealers.

    You may ask, why wingers? The answer is simple. Because these were players who had very little ability and were the lowest in the backline pecking order, they were placed as far away from the ball as possible.

    Consequently, and because the inside backs were so diligent in their assigned role of dropping the ball whenever they received it, the main contribution to the game made by the winger was not to get involved. Their instructions were to run away as quickly as possible whenever trouble appeared, and to avoid tackles at all costs. The fact that the game was organised so that the wingers didn't get to touch the ball led to an incessant flow of complaints from them and eventually the apt description "whingers" was applied. Even though the "h" dropped off over the years, the whingeing itself unfortunately has not.

    Lastly, the full-back. This was the position given to the worst handler, the person least able to accept or pass the ball, someone who was always in the way. The name arose because the forwards would understandably become infuriated by the poor play invariably demonstrated by that person, and call out "send that fool back". He would then be relegated well out of everyone's way to the rear of the field.

    So there you have it. Let's return to the glory days of a contest between two packs of eight men of statuesque physique, supreme fitness and superior intelligence. The rest can go off to where they will be happier, playing soccer.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Rugby Trivia started by Robert Burns View original post
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      Womble,

      I've been mulling it over for a while and I'm going to publish your version of the history of the game in articles, it made me chuckle reading it and I feel it's unfair to hold that sort of humour back from the rest of the world.

      Hope you get (more) famous from it.
      I'm afraid it is not original. http://www.wrra.org.nz/?p=1818
    1. Simon Thomas's Avatar
      Simon Thomas -
      Quote Originally Posted by Womble View Post
      It is largely unknown to players and followers of the modern game that rugby started off purely as a contest for forwards in opposition in line-outs, scrums, rucks and mauls. This pitted eight men of statuesque physique, supreme fitness and superior intelligence in packs against one another...........................
      Womble, you just made my day !

      Thank you
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      Leicester Football Club was founded in 1880.

      Leicester City Football Clubs was founded 1884.

      Tigers are the 1880 lot.
    1. Womble's Avatar
      Womble -
      Robert, its not my work! Anyone who knows me knows I can't spell for toffee and I aint that articulate. Its a great piece though !
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      Ealing used to be called FC and were around when the founding meeting was held, but apparently, so the story goes, went to the wrong pub.
      I think that was Wasps
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_Football_Union

      my club, in SW London, also existed at that time. The story is that they were invited to the founding meeting, but declined as they didn't think a union was needed D'Oh.

      a bit like how people treated the RWC at first - couldn't see the point.
    1. Simon Thomas's Avatar
      Simon Thomas -
      My Old Boys rugby club, who have always been and still are OP Football Club, were founded in 1872 (and no, I did not play in the inaugural match) after my school were founder RFU members at the January 1871 meeting.
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      I'll add that the article is not an original, and credit author if they are known. I always heard the story from the Ealing old boys when I played for them, old players tale perhaps?
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      Quote Originally Posted by crossref View Post
      I think that was Wasps
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_Football_Union

      my club, in SW London, also existed at that time. The story is that they were invited to the founding meeting, but declined as they didn't think a union was needed D'Oh.

      a bit like how people treated the RWC at first - couldn't see the point.

      I thought the story was that they went to the wrong hotel, then just decided to stay there and have a few beers.
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      I'll add that the article is not an original, and credit author if they are known. I always heard the story from the Ealing old boys when I played for them, old players tale perhaps?
      I reckon there were countless pubs that night scattered all over london , all containing committee men from various hapless clubs, all gone to wrong places.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      Are any words as full of potential problems as:

      "Well, we're here a bit early, maybe. Lets have another beer while we wait..."
    1. B52 REF -
      my school played its first official game under "the Rugby Rules of football " in 1862 (though had played its own version since 927) but then established it's own "FOOTBALL RULES" in 1868 -these were in turn adopted by the Town club and were broadly the same as the "london gang's" proposed laws of 1863 at the freemasons arms meeting. My old college (KCL) is an RFU founder member (which back in my day meant lots ot twickers tickets)..
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      Founder members

      Blackheath
      Richmond,
      Ravenscourt Park,
      West Kent,
      Marlborough Nomads,
      Wimbledon Hornets,
      Gipsies,
      Civil Service,
      The Law Club,
      Wellington College,
      Guy’s Hospital,
      Flamingoes,
      Clapham Rovers,
      Harlequin F.C.,
      King's College Hospital,
      St Paul's,
      Queen’s House,
      Lausanne,
      Addison,
      Mohicans, and
      Belsize Park

      I wonder which of these still exist.
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by crossref View Post
      Founder members

      Y Blackheath
      Y Richmond,
      N Ravenscourt Park, (1880)
      N West Kent, (1886 switched to soccer)
      N Marlborough Nomads, (1911 merged into Rosslyn Park)
      Y Wimbledon Hornets, (1874 became Wimbledon)
      N Gipsies, (1880)
      Y Civil Service,
      N The Law Club, (1874)
      Y Wellington College,
      Y Guy’s Hospital,
      N Flamingoes, (1877)
      N Clapham Rovers, (1892? 1911?)
      Y Harlequin F.C.,
      Y King's College Hospital,
      Y St Paul's,
      N Queen’s House, (early 1880s)
      N Lausanne, (1881)
      N Addison, (1875)
      N Mohicans, (1874)
      N Belsize Park (<1880)

      I wonder which of these still exist.
      In the nineteenth century many clubs came and went, often lasting for only a season or two. Clubs were a much more casual arrangement than today. This accounts for much of the uncertainty surrounding the early history of even the surviving clubs.

      At one time the Hospitals Cup was a major rugby event, but these days they have had to combine in order to be able to put out a team.
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      i've ref'd the united hospitals v cambridge game at Guys. great game & function it was too.
  • Recent Activity Widget

    crossref

    Tupau YC

    Thread Starter: crossref

    Signpost of how the RWC might be reffed ... https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/cheika-says-tupou-yellow-was-wrong-call-kearns-calls-it-disgraceful-20190721-p5296a.html Some unkind comments about Paul Williams

    Last Post By: Christy 2 Hours Ago Go to last post
    tewdric

    New scrum law to be introduced immediately, apparently...

    Thread Starter: tewdric

    https://www.facebook.com/985866721486651/posts/2893557564050881/

    Last Post By: colesy 5 Hours Ago Go to last post
    writetodave

    Ref watch..

    Thread Starter: writetodave

    Hi all, thinking ahead to the new season and am treating myself to a new watch. Any recommendations ? Anyone using the Spintso Pro? Thanks

    Last Post By: crossref 9 Hours Ago Go to last post
    Zebra1922

    Hard of hearing referees?

    Thread Starter: Zebra1922

    I recently found an old post about Deaf Rugby, and was surprised to find you can qualify with only moderate hearing loss (25db average). i referee and I’m now classed as severely hard of hearing. Minimum 40db loss at lower frequencies to profound, meaning total loss at higher frequencies). I...

    Last Post By: mcroker 17 Hours Ago Go to last post
    crossref

    Dangerous rucks

    Thread Starter: crossref

    https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/licence-to-assault-rugby-players-need-to-be-protected-so-let-s-protect-them-1.3901005?mode=amp#.XOaOiYcA6d0.facebook

    Last Post By: mcroker 17 Hours Ago Go to last post