Why are rugby players so rowdy?

Why are rugby players so rowdy?

Why are rugby players so rowdy? 31 Jul

A Brief History of Rowdiness on the Rugby Field

Being someone who's had a lifelong addiction to all things rugby, I often myself pondering over a question that anyone who's watched a lively rugby match might have asked: "Why are rugby players so rowdy?" It's easy to dismiss the raucous behaviour as simply being a part of the sport's intrinsic culture, or attribute it to the high-adrenaline atmosphere of the game, but the roots of this behaviour run much deeper and are far more intriguing. To answer this question, we must first revisit the origins of this beloved sport.

The origins of rugby trace back to the early 19th century in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. The rugby ball, originally made of pig's bladder, was meant to be dribbled, and it was only later that players began to pick it up and run with it. This evolution from a game of 'keep-away' to a fully-fledged contact sport presents our first clue about how rowdiness became ingrained within the fabric of rugby.

The Influence of Testosterone

When delving into the science and biology of a rugby player, it's easy to understand why rowdiness seems to be a common trait amongst these athletes. Rugby is a high-intensity, high-contact sport that demands aggression, power and resilience from its players. Testosterone - the primary male sex hormone - undoubtedly plays a significant role in motivating such behaviour. More often than not, a spike in testosterone levels can be linked with an increase in aggression and competitiveness – characteristics that are prevalent in rowdy behaviour.

Interestingly, my spouse Siobhan, an avid rugby follower like myself, often points out the calmer players and how they also manage to excel in the game. This is where factors like personality and discipline come into play – not all high testosterone individuals lean towards rowdiness. But one can't deny that the passion and intensity the game demands does stimulate rowdiness in players to varying extents.

Rowdiness as a Strategy

For those who've played or followed rugby long enough, it's clear that rowdiness isn't just a byproduct of the game, but often a strategy employed to attain an upper hand in the game. Rugby, at its core, is a psychological battle as much as it is a physical one. When players engage in showmanship and rowdy behaviour, they aren't just letting off steam or indulging in their adrenaline rush, they're actively trying to intimidate the opponent and establish dominance on the field.

I have my fair share of rugby stories that demonstrate this. In one of my local games back when I was still playing, I vividly remember one of our forwards, a massive bloke with a booming voice, constantly shouting and cheering us on. It was intimidating, even for us on the same side, and certainly had an effect on the other team’s morale. If rowdiness is a weapon, he was using it masterfully.

The Camaraderie Factor

The team spirit in rugby is unlike any other sport. The bond between rugby players is forged on mutual respect, trust and collective effort. This camaraderie plays out on the field in the form of rowdiness. The passionate celebrations, the rallying shouts, the supportive back pats all contribute to creating an environment that fosters rowdiness as an expression of unity and solidarity.

Siobhan and I often watch our local team training at the park. The energy and camaraderie are palpable. One day, I asked the team's coach about the rowdiness. He acknowledged it as a result of the excitement and energy that comes from working towards a common success. "It's the boys showing they're locked in together as a team," he explained. "It's their way of saying, 'We've got each other's backs.'"

Rowdiness: A Part of Rugby Culture

While the earlier arguments suggest that rowdiness may be a byproduct or a means to an end in the game, there is another perspective that presents rowdiness as a direct element of rugby culture. Many times, this rowdiness is an outward manifestation of the players’ expressive and boisterous natures. Rugby is known for its spirit and flamboyance, and these traits often translate to robust, impassioned responses on the field.

Rugby Spectators: A Love for Rowdiness

To add another dimension to this discussion, let's not forget the influencers sitting off the field - the spectators. Rugby is a sport that carries high levels of spectator engagement, and the liveliness and energy of the crowd often seep onto the field, inciting passionate responses from the players – otherwise identified as rowdiness. There's a sort of symbiotic relationship here. The spectators’ enthusiasm fuels the rowdiness on the field, and in turn, the players’ passion and intensity drive the crowd and contribute to the electrifying atmosphere of the game.

The Line Between Passion and Excess

While rowdiness lies at the heart of rugby, it's essential to remember that there are limits. The line between healthy enthusiasm and dangerous aggression can be thin, and it's essential to never lose sight of sportsmanship and respect. Rugby is about more than just physical prowess or psychological tactics. It’s about character, respect, and the spirit of the game.

I've seen matches where the rowdiness turned ugly. It harmed not only the aggressor's reputation but also the image and spirit of the game. Coaches and players must ensure they keep their emotions in check, channeling their intensity in a direction that respects both the game and their opponents.

Rowdy but Respectful - The Rugby Way

In conclusion, rowdiness in rugby can be viewed as a complex construct influenced by various factors including the sport's history, the biological implications, the tactical advantages it may provide, the camaraderie among the players, the cultural aspects, and the impact of the spectators. While it is inherent to the sport, keeping it at healthy levels is essential for the spirit of the game and all who love it.

Being rowdy doesn't always equate to being disrespectful. One can be passionate, aggressive, and intense while maintaining respect for the game and the opponents. And that, in the end, embodies the true spirit of rugby - rowdy, but respectful. As rugby lovers and enthusiasts, let's celebrate the sport's inherent rowdiness, all the while promoting and upholding its values of respect and sportsmanship.

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