We are lucky to have four granddaughters and one grandson. Bill and I have enjoyed plays, gymnastics, football games, dancing, concerts and karate. Our backsides have bleacher calluses. This spring Robert, the only grandson, has been involved in a sport that I have heard of but never seen. It is called Rugby Union. I think of it as most Americans regard soccer, “Europeans play that.” Surprise! Americans love soccer and kids as young as five are kicking it.

So, what is this Rugby? They do not wear pads or helmets and Robert got kicked in the mouth last game. Spoiler alert, they lost one and won one. Yea! Robert is fine and grins a lot as he races down the… field. They have a line where they run the football, but it is not a goal line. If you get the ball down the field, you stand in what I call the end zone and kick out towards the field.

Wait, wait let’s do a history lesson. I looked it up because when Bill handed me his phone, they had a 20-to-30-minute tutorial and it lost me with hello. Soccer was invented in England around the 1860s. This was when Rugby and Soccer were one sport. Soccer broke off. And according to the World Atlas Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, having a 3.5 billion audience.

At the turn of the 19th Century, Rugby was considered a non-professional sport and the players were not paid. They objected to that practice since Soccer players were paid. Zip to the future and in 1995 the Rugby Union was declared an “open” game, and professionalism was sanctioned by the code’s governing body. World Rugby was known as the International Rugby Football Board. (IRFB.) Who cares, Robert got kicked in the mouth. He would be furious if he knew I was upset. Bill told me to sit down. I did.

Rugby is also played by girls, and they rule. I was shocked to see one young lady? drop on another with her knees into the opponent’s tummy. OMG. When you run the ball (that looks like a fat, really fat, football), you can only pass back or behind you. When they tackle you, you can toss the ball to another teammate and he or she can continue the run. If you goof up? How do you know? You get into a huge group hug called a scrummage or scrum. You all push one another with your heads down and the referee tosses the ball under your feet. Someone gets the ball, and they start the chase, tossing backwards again.

According to my phone, Rugby has two goals and 10 to 15 players. They face each other and the ball is just tossed by the ref, and havoc ensues. The games are over for this year, but they play on a grassy field on Louisiana and Katherine behind Van Buren middle school. People bring chairs, dogs, snacks, and watch little girls and towering ladies run like the wind after catching a ball behind them. The guys are strong and love it. The girls are… don’t get in front of them at the store! They rule. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and next year I will be prepared having studied the rules more on my phone. Everyone was very civil and good sports. The only trouble on the field was with two dogs that just did not get along. They sent them to the penalty box. Oh, wait that’s hockey. My brother, Arch, who is the historian of everything, said, “They used to say Cricket was a game played by thugs, pretending to be gentlemen while Rugby was a game played by gentlemen pretending to be thugs.” Come see and you decide! Roaring Mouse, over and out.