To the uninitiated, rugby is a game in which a bunch of powerfully built men throw themselves at one another in pursuit of an oval ball. In fact, this ancestor of modernAmerican and Canadian football can seem more like an organized brawl than a highly technical sport with a complex set of rules. Apart from its sometimes chaotic demeanor, rugby is also unusual among modern sports in that its origins can be traced back to a single, seminal event.
In 1823, during a soccer game at the prestigious Rugby School in central England, one of the players impulsively picked up the ball and ran with it. The way soccer was played in those days, William Webb Ellis' rash action was practically suicidal. But his novel approach was taken up by other students, who went on to develop a new style of football. Known as Rugby football, it mainly involved throwing and running with the ball rather than kicking it.
1823年，一场英格兰中部享有盛名的拉格公学(Rugby School)举行的足球赛中，一名球员一时冲动，把球拿起来带着跑。以当时的足球玩法，威廉·韦伯·艾利斯的鲁莽行动无疑是“自寻死路”。但他的这种新打法竟被其他学生接过来，继而发展成一种新式的足球——被称为橄榄球(Rugby football)，它以传球和带球跑为主，而不去踢球。
The game grew in popularity, and in 1871, the Rugby Union was formed in London. It drew up the modern rules for a 15-a-side game using an oval ball. Nowadays, rugby is played in more than 80 countries around the world. As for William Webb Ellis, his spirit lives on. His name has been given to the trophy awarded to the winners of the quadrennial Rugby World Cup tournament.
For young men in New Zealand, the pinnacle of sporting achievement is widely reckoned to be donning the famous black uniform of the nationalrugby team. Ever since 1905, when the first officially sanctioned New Zealand touring team swept aside all opposition on a tour of Britain, the fearsome All Blacks have retained an aura ofinvincibility that has rarely been overcome.
Such is the reputation of the All Blacks that some believe they gain a psychological advantage over their opponents the moment they step out onto the playing field. If such an advantage really exists, it can only be enhanced when, as tradihon dictates, the team performs the celebrated haka before the match kicks off.
Haka is the generic term for a traditional dance of the Maori people. Its connection with the game of rugby goes back to the late 19th century,when the New Zealand Native Team performed one on an unofficial tour of Bri.tain. Nowadays, the haka is still led by a player of Maori descent whenever and wherever the All Blacks take the field.
While recent years have seen the All Blacks struggling to match their past successes, the emergence of skillful p_rofessionals such asTongan-bom winger Jonah Lomu ensures that the famous black jersey with the silver fem on the left breast is still able to instill awe in opponents and spectators alike.