Before the game went professional and there were cameras and TMO’s watching every indiscretion on the pitch, most matches featured a spattering (ha ha) of punches and shoeings.
This was at all levels including grass roots – possibly more so there because of the absence of even BBC ‘Rugby Special’ cameras on the sidelines.
It was certainly my experience when I played – although I did my level best to avoid any blood spattering – especially my own.
Like most teams we had our share of what Ronnie & Reggie used to call ‘enforcers’ and I was grateful for the protection of blokes like Kieran, Tay, Sean, Scrapper (obviously), the Kevs, Jimmy, Chas and many others when there was a dispute of any kind (kind is probably not a very appropriate word in this context).
Obviously Chunky was in charge of ‘getting our retaliation in first’ and could be seen giving seminars on the subject in the bar – I was never invited to these teach-ins for some reason.
It was of particular benefit when we played anywhere west of Reading or across the Severn Bridge where visitors from London were treated to old fashioned hospitality..
Most teams gave as good as they got and the ‘lack of consensus’ always finished at the final whistle – even in Wales!
I have talked about this ‘fun’ before and the reason I have returned to it today is that a couple of discussions have made the papers in the last week –
Firstly in New Zealand –
The Johnsonville Mighty Cripples (no really) were playing Stokes Valley when the chat broke out –
Veteran Johnsonville team player/manager Richard Eckhoff voiced his concerns – “I must say my 28 years as a Cripple I have not witnessed such a thug team as this head kicking random head punching subs running in king hitting random players is not why we play we were shocked.” (sic)
The incident is being investigated by the Wellington Rugby Union and suspensions seem likely.
The other disagreement was in Wales at Treharris Rugby Club on Saturday where their National League Three East Central A clash with Fairwater was abandoned due to fighting –
Treharris were leading 32-14 after 73 minutes when Cardiff-based Fairwater had a player sent off.
It’s alleged trouble flared off the pitch with supporters in the aftermath, and the ensuing melee resulted in the game being halted.
The WRU are investigating this and another recent incident – a match at Bettws in Newport that saw five players sent off and the referee forced to abandon the game because of fighting –