Rugby all started in a scrum

The sport of rugby is often compared to American football, but it continues to be unfamiliar and overlooked by citizens in the United States.

Rugby started in the Midlands of England in 1823. The English sport could have been the reason for the evolution of the various types of football.

Today, we have soccer and American football. Also, Gaelic football is played in Ireland, and Australian Rules football is based of Gaelic football.

The first football game appeared to be between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869. It is identified as the first football game, but it was had more characteristics of rugby because of the lack of football’s distinctive features.. It had no line of scrimmage or a forward pass, which were added to gridiron football nearly 30 years later.

Rugby consists of 15 players on each side of the ball, consisting of eight forwards and seven backs. The object of the game is similar to football, as a team is trying to out-maneuver its opponent by passing, kicking or running with the ball.

The most distinctive difference between the two is the scrum. A scrum occurs when a team is guilty of a minor infraction.

An infraction can be anything from a player knocking the ball forward with his or her hands to a stalled play due to the ball being smothered in a pile up.

After an infraction, the referee will ask for a scrum and both packs of forwards will bind together in a huddle. The scrum-half is responsible for putting the ball in between the two packs trying to heel the ball with their feet through the back of the scrum to be picked up by the scrum-half and passed to the backfield.

To score in rugby, the player has to actually touch the ball to the ground, thus touchdown in football. Originally, no points were awarded for touchdowns. Instead, a team was rewarded an attempt to “try” and kick at the goal posts for points.

Points were added to the try every few decades. It started as one point, then three, then four in 1972 and five points in the early 1990’s.

“I am considered one of the ancient men in rugby because I started playing under the three points for a try rule,” said Director of Rugby, Roger Mazzarella.

Mazzarella‘s legacy at BG is one of the reasons for its success.

The Falcons are considered one of the top ten rugby programs in the United States.

Mazzarella took over as head coach in 1985 to lead the Falcons to four Midwest titles, 31 Mid-American Conference titles, seven Ohio collegiate titles and 10 Michigan collegiate titles. The team was even featured in Sports Illustrated article on rugby during the tenure.

Roger’s son, Tony, took over as head coach in the fall of 2008. He quickly compiled a record of 226-31-4 with five MAC championships, three Midwest championships, and four national championship appearances.

The Falcons will now turn their attention to the upcoming spring season after having already locked up a slot in the National Collegiate Rugby Championship.