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Briton introduces Springfieldians to finer points of rugby

By Steve Yates - The News-Leader March 1988



A swirling circle of 10 huffing rugby players stomped through a pass-and-tag drill Saturday at Drury College. Five players dodged and weaved while the others whipped the white oval ball back and forth looking for a tag.


Just to the side, Colin Jones stood alertly, hands on his hips.


"Move! The object is to move." He shouted in the brisk air. "You can't play this standing."


The players had no trouble under-standing Jones' heavy British accent.


The circle increased speed.


Jones, a 38-year-old Springfield resident was lending his 21 years of rugby experience to a clinic sponsored by the Springfield Rugby Football Club.


He was born in Hampshire, England, and played rugby with three clubs. This is his first year as a coach with the Springfield club.


Jones said coaching Americans is a different experience. The veteran has to go back to Square 1.


"In England, we always had people who knew the basics and the game backwards," he said. "They'd seen it on television every week. I'd never been exposed to people who didn’t know the game. Here, you have to tell people how to actually play the game."


Jones said the first American rugby match he saw lacked the finesse of an English match. "It was scrappy.


"It's a very physical game here." He said. "They certainly play it hard. What's happening in (American) football is you have a kind of arms race, defending yourself to the hilt. You can go in with more weaponry. But in rugby, if you want to see tomorrow, you‘ve got to protect yourself when you tackle."


Jones said that once players learn the finer points of rugby tackling and the sport’s basics, the game is really not dangerous.


"I'm surprised that there's not more people who want to play.” he said. "All these people who had years of football want a contact sport where they can run with the ball and show their speed and show their muscle. It would be great for them.”


Jones doesn't plan to play rugby while teaching chemistry at Drury and nutrition and physiology at Southwest Missouri State University. "I prefer watching it here to playing it here," he said. "Nothing personal, really. That’s just the way it is.”

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