Ditka or Die — All Blacks Rugby Comes to Chicago

Ya’ll ready for this?

The legendary New Zealand All Blacks take on (hah!) the USA Eagles on Saturday at Soldier Field.

We are sure that Mike Ditka is turning over in his grave, whether he is dead or not, because rugby is just not ‘Merican.

Still, there are some things to like about the sport, especially the bumper stickers that OU fraternity members had on their cars in 1974:

  • Rugby Players Eat Their Dead 
  • Rugby Players Have Leather Balls
  • Give Blood, Play Rugby

After 21 years in rugby-mad New Zealand, I still have not come to grips with the finer points of the game.  But I have picked up a few things that might be of help if you’re planning on watching the “AB’s” play a “test match” in “Chicago”.

1. Rugby players do not really eat their dead.  They just tape their ears down, towel off the blood and brain matter, and bury them in a “scrum”.

2. Rugby players do not wear helmets or shoulder pads.  They do use mouthpieces and, we can only assume, since they procreate in great numbers, they are big users of steel reinforced jock straps (especially against the French, who specialize in twisting le testicles).

3. There are, of course, no such things as quarterbacks, guards or linebackers.  The “positions” for the “First XV” in rugby include: Wing, Tight-head Prop, Loose-head Prop, Headless Prop, Hooker, Transvestite, Orc, Bilbo Baggins, Sheep “Herder” and *Aussie Mate.

4. While the average NFL game lasts “60 minutes” or, when beer commercials are included, 987 and 1/2 hours, a rugby match well and truly lasts **80 minutes, and they do ***NOT stop after each play for a TV timeout.

5. Rugby players do not “pass” the ball.  They can only “lateral” it sideways or backwards.  The only exception is if they physically rip an opponent’s head ****completely off his body, they are allowed to stuff the ball into the neck hole and hurl the body forward.

6. There are NO CHEERLEADERS.  But New Zealand is at the “cutting edge” of social reform so, at any given match, you might be sitting next to a New Zealander who is one of at least 17 *****sexual persuasions officially recognized by the United Nations. Rah.

7. The debate still rages about who is the better athlete — a rugby player or someone who plays “gridiron”.   This is impossible to answer, because the games are so different.  But what is clear is that, if Cowboys GM Jerry Jones was not such a blockhead, he would have already drafted this 300-pound high school kid. (Sorry about the stupid ad).

8. Unless things have changed A LOT since I left the States, American football is never played in the nude.  But in Dunedin, NZ (imagine Austin if it were moved to Antarctica), the Nude Blacks are a tradition at Otago University.  You can always tell how tough, and how cold, a kiwi bloke is when he plays nude rugby in the winter.

9. We have personally been involved with no fewer than three rugby legends in our professional life.  Two of them were way “up themselves”, as they say “Down Under” (ha!).  The third — Superstar Jonah Lomu, who Jerry Jones supposedly wanted as a Cowboys tight end — was a good bloke and a physical freak.

10. While the Mexican Wave is a popular  way to enthuse NFL crowds and intimidate opponents, the All Blacks use a more traditional “Haka” to scare the wee-wees out of opposing players and even Mike Ditka.

So get ready, Chicago.

Get bloody ready!




* Traditionally, the “Aussie Mate” is the product of convict in-breeding

** Or, “in metric”, 0.25 kilo-hobbits

*** And yet Kiwis still find a LOT of time to “get on the piss”

**** At least three times per match



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