Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A History of My Rugby: The Early Years

There was a lot of interest in my shoulder resurfacing surgery, mainly by players wondering how long it would be before they will have to have it done. The short answer is I came late to rugby compared to present day players and imports and only started playing in the fall of 1967 at university. Trent University gets to claim me as an alumni only because they accepted me in 1965 after a not so stellar high school career.

One of the reasons my marks were not great is that in those days you had to write departmental exams in each course in Grade 13 for something like 75% of your final mark. Also to get into a university you needed two credits in English (Authors and Composition) and two credits in French (Authors and Composition). AND you needed two credits in mathematics to go to most universities. And if there was one subject I was poorer in than French it was Math, so in grade 13 deciding on Grade 13 courses, I heard the word most when in fact there was only one, namely Trent University in Peterborough. It got even a bit more complicated but basically that is how Trent won me over and eventually introduced me to rugby.

Trent was only in its second year of existence and was smaller than most high schools with an enrollment of about 350. I played football at high school and a couple of partial years of junior with the Hurricanes and Braves. So of course at Trent I had to play on the niversity soccer team who played the local Bible College and Normal (Teacher's) College. We might play some colleges from other universities.

Then in the summer of 1967, Paul Wilson came to Trent as athletic director and he was an English rugby player. Paul started the rugby team at Trent that year, I joined and played two years with Trent as a prop. However, this was not to be a story about me: this was to be a story about what the laws of rugby were back in 1967 when I started. The idea came from Scot Harland who sends out an information page from the North American Caribbean Rugby Association each week with worse pictures than mine. He has been asking specific questions about the laws in various years. These questions if you wish to try them are about the laws as I learned them (or didn't) in 1967. Answers will appear in a near future blog (as soon as I make them up): hey if you want real history; read a book.

1. The object of the game then was to win as it is now. Correct?

2. In 1967, a try was worth 3 points; a goal from a free kick or penalty kick was 3 points and a dropped goal was 3 points. So how much was a goal from a try?

3. The ball, at commencement of play, should be inflated to which of the following?

a) 9 1/2 - 10 lb per square inch
b) 0.6697 - 9.7031 kilograms per square centimeter
c) 65.71 - 66.75 kilopascals

4. What could the referee not do before a match?

5. According to the present laws, a knock on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward or when a player hits the ball forward or when the ball hits a hand or arm and goes forward and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it. How was this different in 1967?

6. A referee would move a scrummage only in which circumstances?

7. Who got the scrummage if a forward moving maul was stopped?

8. What was the scrum engage sequence in 1967?

9. A player putting in the ball had to put the ball straight along the middle line of the scrum in a single forward movement so that it first touches the ground immediately beyond the nearer first player. How was this different in 1967?

10. How far did the laws allow a scrum to wheel in 1967?

11. How long did the loose forwards have to stay bound to a scrum at this time?

12. In 1967, what determined the maximum length of the lineout?

13. If a team was awarded a penalty kick on the 50 yard line and a player kicked the ball directly into touch at the other teams 20 yard line, what would happen?

14. If a player in general play at the 50 yard line kicked the ball directly into touch at the other teams 20 yard line, what would happen?

15. Back then a place kick would be used to start the match and on the resumption of play after half time (we use a drop kick now).  A place kick would also be used for penalties and when else?

16. What were kicking tees made of in 1967?

17. It is not a law, but who threw the ball into a lineout at this time?          

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