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It's Scrum Time!

Rugby is catching on locally.

By Francis Skalicky

The News-Leader – May 1992

Not very many rugby players wear straw cowboy hats.

But Ron Kitchens of Ozark sported one for Saturday’s match be between Springfield and the Strathendrick Club from Scotland.

And it’s a perfect example of how an old form of European football is starting to blend into the Ozarks.

“Rugby is nothing like any other game I've ever played,” Kitchens said.

Scrums, rucks, mauls and other rugby jargon was the talk of the day as the Springfield Rugby Football Club took on the Scots in a match a vacant lot next to Mercy Villa Nursing Home near the intersection of Battlefield and National.

Saturday wasn‘t a good day for Springfield, which lost 20-12, but it has been a good year.

The club’s record is 9-3 and its membership — 41 players and 61 total members — is the largest in the organizations l0 year history. According to the players, the action is the main appeal.

"It gets in your blood,” said John Moore. "There’s no sport like it.”

"This is one of the ultimate sports,” said 35-year-old John Behr, one of the club’s original members. “It looks rough, but there’s rhyme and reason for everything that goes on out there.”

"It’s a physical game, but you don’t see so many injuries,” said Behr.

You do, however, see a lot of tired people at the end of the game.

"You don’t play for three seconds and quit for 30,” said 38-year-old John Moore. “You’re at it for 80 minutes.”

Outside of a five-minute halftime, the players (15 on each side) are running almost constantly, trying to touch down a ball (which basically looks like a fat football) behind the goal line. Which isn’t easy. “Rugby is a very athletic, contact sport,” said Colin Jones, the Springfield coach, “but it's a game played by all shapes and sizes.”

Jones has been around the game longer than most of his players. He grew up in London and played the game all his life until moving to Springfield six years ago. He has coached the Springfield club the last four years.

"We didn’t grow up with rugby like he did, so we don’t have some of the basic instincts,” Kitchens said. "But he’s been incredibly patient with us, and he's helped bring us to the level where we’re at today.”

When the game ended, the Scottish team cheered the Springfield players coming off field. Then the two teams got together for burgers and beverages. The postgame camaraderie is a trademark of rugby.

"Rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen,” laughed John Moore.

Rugby Terms

Scrummage: is formed when players from each team close up to allow the ball to be put in play on the ground between the teams.

Ruck: is formed when the ball is on the ground and one or more players from each team are on their feet and in physical contact, closing around the ball.

Maul: similar to a ruck, except the ball is in a player's hands instead of being on the ground.

Hooker: the middle player in each front row of a scrummage. I Props: the players on either side of a hooker in a scrummage.

Drop-out: a drop kick awarded to a defending team.



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