Hooker in the Scrum

American football fans like to talk about "smashmouth" football, meaning the type of power-running offense that crushes the ball up the field by dint of a strong offensive line and bludgeoning running backs. Interestingly, there is no such specification for rugby teams. This is because rugby is to "smashmouth" as piledriver is to "love tap." Oh, rugby fans may talk about a game being dictated by pace, but this just means the guy hammering the ball in for a try (think of it as a touchdown worth five points) ran quite rapidly right up until the moment he ploughed over an opposing player. Which is not to imply that rugby is a brutal, ugly game — far from it. Watching one of those players streak upfield, draw an angry hooker (it's not what you think) toward him and then dish the ball off before he gets clobbered — ah, that's skill and bravery and intelligence in action. What more do you want from a sport? The St. Louis Bombers bring the thrills, the spills and some of the smashmouth-iest hits you'll ever see to the Sportport Soccer Complex (12500 Sportport Road, Maryland Heights; 314-852-2662 or www.stlouisbombers.com) at 1 p.m. today, as they take on the St. Louis Royals. Admission is $5, and be prepared to make return visits — once you get a taste for rugby, you'll find you always want more.
Sat., Oct. 7
 
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