Notes from the Field: A study of the athletic competition commonly known as rugby, or rugby football, as practiced by a population of women at Brown University
|by C.E. Kiely, C.S. Young, M. E. Parker-Johnson, and C. E. McKenna|
Honorable Mention, Casey Shearer Awards for Excellence in Creative Nonfiction, 2004
Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is the active ingredient in beer. Fermentation of complex carbohydrates (CO2 + CH3CH2OH) by yeast enzymes creates ethanol and carbonation. Beer is such a part of rugby that Guinness is synonymous with rugby in Ireland, bumper stickers proclaim "Our drinking team has a rugby problem," and Megan Parker-Johnson's mother has to be constantly reassured that we only drink after (not before or during) the actual rugby game.
"About 8 percent of a person's weight is blood. The amount of blood varies according to height and weight, but an average man has about 12 pints of blood, and the average woman has about 9 pints." 1
I thought that there was a lot of blood lost when Rebecca Vitale and I smashed heads as we tackled the same opponent from different angles, but it definitely wouldn't have even come close to filling up even one Ben & Jerry's container. And to think I have about nine flowing through my body.
Force: an increase in acceleration can counteract an increase in mass--a wing can tackle a prop (translation: even a very large Irish woman can be leveled by a much smaller girl running fast)
a = Δd/t
Acceleration is very important when the aforementioned little girl now has the ball and has to run away from a whole team of very large Irish women.
v = d/t
Velocity is different than speed because it is a vector quantity. It has direction. So if you run very fast to the left and then very fast to the right, ending up where you started, your velocity is still 0, regardless of your speed. Run straight up the field. Your velocity might be negated anyway when your opponents lift you on your toes and drive you back where you came from, but at least you are not wasting your own energy.
But the aforementioned unnamed roommate was able to save herself from future encounters with the ledge by using cinderblocks to raise her bed out of the danger zone. Protective measures are virtually outlawed in the game of rugby. Some players attempt to ward off a fifth or sixth concussion by wearing what is essentially a centimeter of padding with a chin strap. These "scrum caps," as they are called, are manufactured intentionally as sad excuses for helmets since actual protective headgear is illegal.
Bruises (muscle contusions): "A bruise forms when a blow breaks small blood vessels near the skin's surface, allowing a small amount of blood to leak out under the skin. The trapped blood appears as a black-and-blue mark -- a bruise. Sometimes, there are also tiny red dots or red splotches. The body reabsorbs the blood, which causes the bruise to change color with time." 3
Tuesday practices usually begin with somewhat of an informal show-and-tell while we boot up on the sidelines. Our first practice after a Saturday game, by Tuesday everyone's bruises have really peaked-- black and purple cleat imprints on thighs (sometimes an entire shoe print), yellow and black finger-sized marks on upper arms, red bumps on shins. Usually it is the forwards who have the most impressive exhibits. They take most of the repetitive beatings and consequently receive more colorful contusions. It's the nature of the game.
The fifteen players on the field (which is called a pitch and is basically a football field, with uprights at either end and two "try-zones") are divided into two main groups--the scrum (forwards) and the line (backs). The scrum is what most people think of when they think of rugby--the big pack of players that engage in something of a sixteen-person face-off. On offense, the line stands in a steep diagonal line. The scrumhalf must get the ball from the scrum and pass it to the fly-half, who passes it down the line. The object is to score a "try" by placing the ball (which resembles a rounded football) in your try-zone (think end zone only wider).
But maybe there is a rugby gene that is just obscured by environmental factors. The trend may not be apparent because rugby is not like soccer or baseball--no one goes home to watch their little brother play in the Little League rugby championship or cheer their sister on in her high school rugby game (unless one lives in Canada where they do such things). Maybe if rugby were more popular we would see the trend. Or maybe the rugby gene is recessive and therefore only shows up in certain generations, making it difficult to track. Or maybe environmental factors play a large role and so the gene is expressed only in a few individuals. Or maybe everyone has the rugby gene, but most people don't identify as rugby players because they encounter too much societal resistance.
There is mounting evidence supporting this idea that a rugby gene might exist by suggesting that some rugby players are related to other rugby players. Julie Wolfson's sister Amy also plays rugby. Kelly Ennis' dad, who brought a cooler of beer to Cornell (it served as a consolation prize but could have also served as a celebratory drink had we not lost by a score of 15-14) 6, was himself a former rugby player. Kelly Ennis was a rower, but then she quit and joined the rugby team. This evidence supports the idea that rugby is better than crew (Kiely, 2001) and that playing rugby runs in families (Kiely, 2003 7). Perhaps one day researchers will locate the exact location of this "rugby gene."
In conclusion, we find that rugby may or may not be genetic. Additionally, eating eggs with or without bacon may or may not be bad for you.
4. I know Michigan is not a state that is usually a target of incest jokes, but my friend Caroline associates Michigan with inbreeding, a fact that came up in a conversation we had with Jordan, who had recently moved to Massachusetts from Michigan, during our freshman year of high school when we were sharing our first impressions of her.
5. (March 31, 2003 9:53 p.m.)
6. Moral of the story: Unlike flowers, which are awkward to receive after a failure, beer is always appropriate.
7. (March 31, 2003 9:57 p.m.)
8. These insightful conclusions were drawn by et al #1