Being a Hooker

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Line Up: Line Out

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The Line Out has always reminded me of the tradition where brides throw their bouquets at weddings.
However, line outs are not used to determine who will be next to wed, but rather to restart play after the ball has been knocked or kicked out of touch. (Over the touch-line).

The line out should be taken at the exact spot that the ball went out. The team that did not touch the ball last is at an advantage because they get to throw the ball in and decide how many players will be involved. The line out is performed by the forwards and the scrumhalf. The players make two single file rows, one metre apart from one another. One of the players (usually the hooker) of the team with advantage throws the ball in the middle of the two lines and the players do everything in their power to grab the ball first. This includes impressive jumping and gripping and even forms of gymnastics to achieve. The “jumpers” are usually the second row players and are often pretty tall. Once one of the players has caught the ball, they are then responsible for getting it to the backline players in order to make an offensive attack.

Players involved in the lineout make up their own language to communicate in a way that the other team will not pick up on their tactics. If you watch the Springboks play you will hear that the lineout calls are usually in Afrikaans. If the hooker throws the ball into the lineout in a way that favours his team, then the referee will have it restarted. Other reasons that the referee may re-do the lineout include using the opposition for support when jumping as well as players jumping before the ball has been thrown.

Line out

Rucking and Rolling

If you watch rugby, you would have heard the commentator talk about smething called a ruck, as well another movement called a maul.
A ruck is formed when two or more players are on their feet over the ball in physical contact with one another after a tackle has been made or when the ball is on the ground.
When the ball carrier is held but not brought to the ground a maul may form. Rucks and mauls are used to gain ground and advantage in the direction, hopefully, of the try-line.

For a maul to form there must be a least three players involved. The three players must include
•The ball carrier
•An opponent, holding the ball carrier
•A team mate of the ball carrier, bound to the ball carrier

It is easy to get confused between in determining whether a movement is a ruck or a maul. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to know if the the ball is on the ground or not. To put it simply- on the ground- ruck, off the ground- maul.

The ruck and the maul are also similar because they share certain rules:

•Everyone taking part in the ruck/maul must keep their heads. and shoulders higher than their hips.
•No player is allowed to jump on top of the ruck/maul.
•No player should enter from an off-side position. You can tell whether you are off-side or not, as the off-side line is marked by the backmost foot of the team-mate positioned furthest back of the ruck or maul. A player is only allowed to join a ruck or maul from behind this line.
•No player should throw the ball back into the ruck/maul

Knowing the difference is impressive- now go and show off! 🙂

Rugby Funnies

Rugby players get hit in the head quite often and this could be the way to justify some of these beauts:

“Nobody in Rugby should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.” – (Jono Gibbs – Chiefs)

“I’m going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.” – (Rodney So’ialo – Hurricanes) on University

“You guys line up alphabetically by height.” and “You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle.” – (Colin Cooper -Hurricanes head coach)

“He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.” – Colin Cooper on Paul Tito

Kevin Senio ( Auckland ), on Night Rugby vs Day Games “It’s basically the same, just darker.”

David Nucifora ( Auckland ) talking about Troy Flavell “I told him, ‘Son, what is it with you. Is it ignorance or apathy?’ He said, ‘David, I don’t know and I don’t care.’

David Holwell (Hurricanes) when asked about the upcoming season: “I want to reach for 150 or 200 points this season, whichever comes first.”

“Andy Ellis – the 21 year old, who turned 22 a few weeks ago” (Murray Mexted)

“Colin has done a bit of mental arithmetic with a calculator.” (Ma’a Nonu)

“I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body.” (Jerry Collins)

“That kick was absolutely unique, except for the one before it which was identical.” (Tony Brown)

“I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.” (Tana Umaga)

“Sure there have been injuries and deaths in rugby – but none of them serious.” (Doc Mayhew)

“If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again.” (Anton Oliver)

And my personal favourite:

“Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw.” (Murray Mexted)

Prop it. Lock it. Drop it.

One of the most important components of the game of rugby is the scrum. The scrum is used to determine possession of the ball as well as to gain advantage. The players that take part in the scrum are the forwards and are referred to as the forward pack. The scrum ultimately looks like two groups of people pushing against one another or engaging in a massive group hug. However, this process is functional. You may recognize the phrase: “Crouch. Touch. Pause. Engage”, which is said by the referee as instruction. However, this year the IRB changed this process and it now sounds and follows “Crouch. Bind. Set.” This is aimed at preventing collapsed scrums and therefore wastes less time by eliminating resetting of the scrums. Scrums are awarded as penalties to the opposing team if an offense is made. Eg Knock-ons, Skew line-out throws or breakdown offences.

The scrum consists of 8 players from each team. Each team supplies 3 rows in the scrum:
Front Row: 2 Props (Numbers 1 and 3) and Hooker (#2)
Second Row: 2 Locks (Numbers 4 and 5)
Back Row: 2 Flankers (Numbers 6 and 7) and Number 8

The hooker is plays a vital role in the scrum as it is his/her job to sweep the ball back once it has been placed within the scrum. The props support the scrum and are used to slam into the opposing team when contact as contact is made.
The scrumhalf (number 9) is responsible for placing the ball in scrum once the players are in there set positions and is also the one to receive the ball if their team has successfully gained possession. The Eighth man is at the back of the scrum and acts as a link between the backs and the forwards.

Some basic rules for scrumming include:

• All players must remain bound in the scrum until the ball has left the scrum. This means if the scrum happens to collapse, it gets reset and done again.
• All players who are not part of the scrum must remain behind the off-sides lines except the scrumhalves. The off-sides line is the line perpendicular to the ball.
• The scrum-half from the team awarded the scrum feeds the ball into the left hand side of their scrum where it is hooked by the hooker (#2) and passed through to the Number 8’s feet.
• The defending scrumhalf may follow the ball as it progresses through the scrum so long as they stay behind the ball.
• The scrum is over when the ball emerges from the scrum. The ball can emerge either by being removed by the scrum half once it has successfully passed through the scrum, or if it happens to be kicked out the end of the scrum formation. The ball may not be handled by any player while in the scrum (This includes the scrumhalves).
• The teams may not begin to “drive” (push forwards into each other) until the ball has been placed into the scrum by the scrum half.

Players in the scrum tend to get very intimate with one another as some of the grips that are used to bind the teams definitely violate personal boundaries. But if rubbing up against one another wins games and championships then spread the love I say. 


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If you live in South Africa you must have noticed that the Currie Cup tournament has begun. For the ladies that don’t know, the Currie Cup follows up after the Super 15 tournament but it involves only South African teams. The teams that are involved in the premiere division are The Lions, The Sharks, The Stormers, The Griquas, The Blue Bulls and The Cheetahs. The tournament is sponsored by ABSA and the trophy was donated by Sir Donald Currie. The first winners of the Currie Cup were the Stormers and they are the current defending champions.

The qualifying rounds of the Currie Cup are contested in a double round-robin format, with each team playing all the others home and away. Teams are awarded four points for a win, two for a draw, and zero for a loss. A bonus point is awarded to teams by two possible outcomes; scoring four tries in a match, or losing a match by seven points or less. Therefore, the winner of a match can receive four or five points, whereas a loser can receive up to two points for a loss depending on whether they gain any bonus points.

So far the teams have completed three rounds of the tournament and the defending champions, The Stormers, are in the lead.
The Stormers are on top of the log with 10 points followed by last year’s runners up, the Sharks, with 9. Third on the log is The Cheetahs with 7 points followed by The Lions, The Griquas and The Bulls with 6 points.

Many of the stars of the provincial teams are not available for the touramnet as they have to fulfill Springbok duties during the Rugby Championship. This makes it difficult to make predictions at this early stage as teams won’t be at full strength until their Bok’s return.

Look out for all the Currie Cup action this weekend starting on Friday when the Lions take on The Stormers at Ellis Park at 19:10 

For the Ladies


As we celebrate Women’s day in South Africa today, I thought it would be appropriate to honour the ladies through a discussion of women’s rugby.

Women’s rugby is identical to the men’s game in terms of the rules, pitch and equipment. Proving that women are not soft, there are no special considerations or concessions made for the fairer sex. Rugby is one of the most popular sports in our country, but is dominated by men. This is not the case in other countries around the world, where the number of female teams in America and the UK give the guys a run for their money. In our country it seems that women involved in this sporting code still struggle to gain the same respect on the field of play compared to the opposite sex.

Women also take part in the sevens version of the game which is geared towards the ladies with a need for speed. In the fourth round of the Women’s World Series that took place in the Netherlands in May, The All Blacks took the Cup over Canada 33-24. The World Cup Sevens took place in Moscow in June, which saw the same teams in the final. New Zealand were once again victorious, taking the title 29-12.
The Springbok ladies were crowned champions of Africa earlier this year in Tunisia. They won all their group matches convincingly, setting up a Cup Semi-final clash against Uganda. The Springboks proved too much for the Ugandans when they won the match 17 – 0. This saw them heading into the Cup Final against the host Tunisia, who they beat 29-5. Not bad!

Women’s rugby has grown massively over the past decade and huge potential has been uncovered. However, we need to encourage girls in our own country to get involved, so that we can be competitive on the global stage. If our Springbok guys can do it, then the girls can too! Let’s say no to Barbie and yes to getting dirty!