Look at this - your second rant/sale-o-gram in less than three weeks' time. I either have a lot to say, or a lot to sell. Aw hell, who am I kidding? It's a little of both.
Sunday, while flipping around during the 2001 Tiger Masters, I happened upon cable's USA Network. They were in the midst of running a marathon of EcoChallenge segments, when I happened to hear the name Brian Hightower. Right after that, I heard the name Chris Morrow. Both of these names quickly came to mind as members of the prestigious Gentlemen of Aspen. Along with two others, (non-rugby players), Team Boogie Aspen set out to take on the EcoChallenge in Borneo. If you're not familiar with the race, it's classified as an "Expedition Race." Last year's race consisted of 77 teams from all over the world. They take part in a race that lasts approx. 7 days (if you're on the winning team) to 12 days (if you're just trying to finish). Basically, it's non-stop, day and night, with each team walking, riding bikes, canoeing, climbing, and crawling to get to the finish line. Brian and his teammates believed wholeheartedly that they could win because they were world-class rugby athletes. But, in a race that's approximately 300 miles long, a lot can and probably will go wrong. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that Team Boogie Aspen finished in 52nd place. After all that they endured (and trust me, I watched most of it) I'm incredibly impressed and proud of their accomplishments. When asked what Brian's Grossest Moment was, this is what he had to say The grossest moment was easily finding a well-sated leech on my privates on the morning before the canoe leg, and realizing that it must have been there most of the night! One of his competitors had it even worse than that. Click on this link at your own risk. You will need Real Player to see this clip, but it's worth it.
If you just got back from viewing the clip, you'll see my nice, skilled segue. A couple of weeks ago, an e-mail news story made its rounds. I think I received it three times. It told the story of an Australian League player who decided that he was going to do his own version of the Mike Tyson ear biting. You can view the full story here (thank you, Wes) [You're welcome, Pat.]
Original as it may be, this is another good example of how the word "rugby" will continue to be looked upon as a dirty one. This probably would have been something that I laughed at and shook my head, but I've taken to the key board because the other day, I was listening to a local sports talk radio station that has a segment in the morning called "Muse in the News." Lo and behold, this story led off the segment. Throughout the segment, the commentators made jokes and perpetuated misconceptions about rugby. Unbeknownst to them, they probably did a year's worth of damage in 15 minutes. I don't have time to figure out the statistics, but you can imagine that there are 300,000 people listening to that show, and if you run the tables of calculations, it's likely that more than 100 parents of potential rugby players will be soured on the sport before they really know what it's about.
The sad state of affairs is, if we want to see this sport grow, we have to keep the negative aspects of the sport (i.e.- grotesque partying) behind doors. It's imperative, for now, that we temporarily sacrifice the public drunkenness, public urination, and most of all, in-game acts of violence that might show up in a sports report for the general public. And, if we're going to have rugby in the press, let's have more stories like that of Mike and Chris.
Finally, I must give hats off again this year to the Duke Fuqua School of Business Rugby Team. For a number of years now, they've successfully hosted the MBA World Rugby Championships. Over 20 teams, representing 5 different countries, were in attendance. I can tell you my friends; this tournament is unlike any other. While the Cameron Crazies jumped up and down in Cameron Field House, as their beloved basketball team won the semi-final game, and while it pissed down rain outside, about 500 rugby players, pretending it was Halloween, gathered together in an intramural gym for a full banquet. This banquet, which included all of the golden libations that a rugger could consume, was included in their tournament fee. Everybody seemed to have an incredible time. On Sunday, we were faced with our own mortality during the second half of the game between the Harvard Business School and the Thunderbird Rugby Club.
After blowing the whistle, the referee suffered a heart attack and passed away there at the field. Ian Catto (1960-2001) a member of the Southeast Rugby Referee's Society, will be missed greatly. Besides being in bed with a woman, I can't imagine a better way to shuffle off this mortal coil than on the rugby pitch with my brethren.
Hooker Rugby Supply