Sunday, July 07, 2013

Rugby as a renewable French battle

"Us against them" could describe the pervasive mindset of RUGBY UNION in FRANCE.
That's one of the lessons I've learned since I began reading Philip Dine's comprehensive "FRENCH RUGBY FOOTBALL: A CULTURAL HISTORY."
The book examines the way the imported sport first captured the interest of the Third Republic's elites -- it helped them emulate in a small way the colonial expansionist success of traditional rivals Britain -- and later spread throughout the southwest of the country -- where it sprang from the local schools and represented a rare opportunity to turn the tables on the centralist domination of Paris.
There was also a militaristic aspect to the sport that proved popular among Frenchmen eager to avenge the humiliating battlefield defeats of the 19th century.
Dine explains that the two most basic laws of rugby -- prohibitions both on passing the ball forward and players being in front of the ball when it is played -- mean that the game is characterized by a "permanent front line."
More so than ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL (SOCCER), rugby can thus be viewed as a battle on the pitch -- a renewable battle hosted by communities large and small.


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