Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I don't go to the movies often, but I've been waiting eagerly for the opening in France of Invictus.
The story of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, and rugby. What could be better?
I just hope this movie doesn't disappear without notice in the US. It's not that Americans don't like Mandela, or the end of apartheid, and a good triumph of the underdog story is always a winner. But Rugby? WTF? And the title. No regular American has any idea what “invictus” means. We don’t study latin any more. This movie may be doomed to obscurity from the start.
I can’t help much with Latin, but having lived for a time now in a rugby-playing land, I can give you a few pointers concerning the impenetrable rules of that game.
First, it doesn't stop. No timeouts. No stopping the clock between plays. Minor injury on the field? Keep playing, just try not to run the guy and the medical team over. It’s a big field: go play on another part of it. Even the end of the half, or the game, does not stop play. Running and tackling and rucking (yes, it is a game with rucks and scrums and melees) continues apace, sometimes for several minutes, concluding only when a score is made or the ball goes out of bounds. Play can be stopped any time, however, if the referee's battery needs changing.
Other rules: - No bleeding on the field. Anyone caught bleeding has to go off. This goes for the referee, too.
- No throwing a guy to the ground unless he has the ball. This rule is kind of flexible.
- Getting the ball into the end zone is not enough. You have to touch the ball to the ground. So don’t get all caught up in celebrating and forget to touch the ball down. In rugby you have to ‘touch down’, though in American football a ‘touchdown’ only requires the ball cross the plane into the end zone.
- Wear any shoes you want. Socks are part of the uniform, but shoes are up to you, so there are guys out there with any color shoe they can find. Which can be useful trying to identify guys in a pile. Same goes for headgear. If your wife makes you wear one of those funky quilted helmets to keep your ears pretty, it doesn't have to match anything else.
As you can see from these rules, it’s a fast-moving, rough and tough game, a bang-up show of testosterone. Go see it.


Tabor said...

Gee, I learned a lot about rugby...but you never did explain that word 'invictus' ;-)

NanU said...


Sara Williams said...

Rugby - the sport of my country too - Wales!

Titus said...

Too sad when Rugby Union went professional over here. Game, and rules, changed.
Like your basic run-down though, and I haven't heard of the film, so thanks for the tip-off.

Argent said...

And Rugby players don't go in for so much body armour and padding.