If you’ve traveled to Chicago recently, you may have noticed an odd sight. The New Zealand All Blacks, the best Rugby team in the world, traveled to Chicago for training and a scrimmage game. They arrived right as Chicago was reeling from a loss of their Bears to the New England Patriots. The United States is, of course, a football town – American football – and many were left scratching their heads over what exactly Rugby entails.
Rugby: Who, What, When, Where
According to legend, the game of Rugby was founded in the aptly named town of Rugby in the county of Warwickshire, England. The game of Rugby became popular in the 1850’s and the first match between opposing colleges occurred in 1857 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The current culture of Rugby in England suggests that it’s a sport generally played by the upper and middle classes of the economy. Rugby is not widely played in the United States but is gaining popularity in Canada.
Rugby, much like American football, consists of running the ball over the goal line to score to a point, however throwing the ball forward is banned. Players are only able to advance the ball by running it or by kicking it. Tackles are common in Rugby and a well recognized part of game play includes the scrum. Rugby scrums take place when groups of opposing players from each team push on each other in order to gain possession of the ball (which is oval, by the way).
The New Zealand All Blacks
The New Zealand All Blacks were awarded the honor of 2013 team of the year. They also have 2013’s player of the year, Kieran Read, and coach of the year, Steven Hansen, decorating their roster. The All-Blacks are also the current holders of the Rugby World Cup. Named the All-Black for their jerseys – which are entirely black except for the white collar – they’ve achieved local as well as international fame, evidenced by their travel to the United States recently.
Once arriving at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, the All Blacks were greeted by approximately 300 fans, most of which were dressed in all black adult onesies as their way to honor their favorite team. The match held Saturday at Soldier Field is sold out, with 63,000 expected to be in attendance. The game will also air on major US network NBC, with no competing American Football games on the air.
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