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The Rough,Tough World Of Rugby

To the uninitiated, rugby is a game in which a bunch of powerfully built men throw themselves at one another in pursuit of an oval ball. In fact, this ancestor of modern American and Canadian football can seem more like an organized brawl than a highly technical sport with a complex set of rules. Apart from its sometimes chaotic demeanor, rugby is also unusual among modern sports in that its origins can be traced back to a single, seminal event.

In 1823, during a soccer game at the prestigious Rugby School in central England, one of the players impulsively picked up the ball and ran with it. The way soccer was played in those days, William Webb Ellis' rash action was practically suicidal. But his novel approach was taken up by other students, who went on to develop a new style of football. Known as Rugby football, it mainly involved throwing and running with the ball rather than kicking it.

The game grew in popularity, and in 1871, the Rugby Union was formed in London. It drew up the modern rules for a 15-a-side game using an oval ball. Nowadays, rugby is played in more than 80 countries around the world. As for William Webb Ellis, his spirit lives on. His name has been given to the trophy awarded to the winners of the quadrennial Rugby World Cup tournament.

For young men in New Zealand, the pinnacle of sporting achievement is widely reckoned to be donning the famous black uniform of the national rugby team. Ever since 1905, when the first officially sanctioned New Zealand touring team swept aside all opposition on a tour of Britain, the fearsome All Blacks have retained an aura of invincibility that has rarely been overcome.

Such is the reputation of the All Blacks that some believe they gain a psychological advantage over their opponents the moment they step out onto the playing field. If such an advantage really exists, it can only be enhanced when, as tradition dictates, the team performs the celebrated haka before the match kicks off.

Haka is the generic term for a traditional dance of the Maori people. Its connection with the game of rugby goes back to the late 19th century, when the New Zealand Native Team performed one on an unofficial tour of Britain. Nowadays, the haka is still led by a player of Maori descent whenever and wherever the All Blacks take the field.

While recent years have seen the All Blacks struggling to match their past successes, the emergence of skillful professionals such as Tongan-born winger Jonah Lomu ensures that the famous black jersey with the silver fern on the left breast is still able to instill awe in opponents and spectators alike.

在外行的眼中,橄榄球赛只不过是一大群身材健壮的男人相互冲撞推挤,为了一颗椭圆形的球你争我夺。事实上, 这个现代美加地区“美式足球”的始祖,看起来更像是一场有组织的争吵,而不像是遵循复杂规则、讲究高度技巧的运动。与其他现代运动相比较,橄榄球的不寻常之处,除了屡见不鲜的混乱场面,也在于它的起源,它可已追溯到某一重要的事件。

1823年,一场英格兰中部享有盛名的拉格公学(Rugby School)举行的足球赛中,一名球员一时冲动,把球拿起来带着跑。以当时的足球玩法,威廉·韦伯·艾利斯的鲁莽行动无疑是“自寻死路”。但他的这种新打法竟被其他学生接过来,继而发展成一种新式的足球--被称为橄榄球(Rugby football),它以传球和带球跑为主,而不去踢球。


对新西兰的年轻人来说,运动生涯的最高成就,就是能穿上那套出名的橄榄球国家代表队的黑色制服。自从1905年 第一支正式批准的新西兰代表队远征英伦巡回比赛,横扫所有对手,大获全胜以来,这支令人生畏的“全黑队”就保持了几乎不可战胜的气势。


“哈卡”是毛利人一种传统舞蹈的通称。它与橄榄球运动的联系可以追溯到19世纪末,新西兰土著球队队在英国各地进行非正式比赛期间表演了这种舞蹈。现在,不论何时何地,只要“全黑队”比赛,就仍会有一名毛利人后裔球员带 头跳“哈卡”舞。

近几年,“全黑队”努力想恢复旧日荣光,球技超群的职业球员如:汤加出生的侧翼大将乔纳·洛姆等一一出现, 则可以保证:这件著名的左胸前镶有银蕨(注:新西兰的国徽)的黑色球衣,还是能让敌手胆战心惊、让观众肃然起敬的。

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