NEW YORK, NY – Many of you still think rugby is the game with the sticks and insanely under-protected goalies that Native American Canadians started playing in the two weeks in July when there wasn’t snow in Ontario. Well, it’ ain’t. Rugby is basically tackle soccer, and American football’s father. But this isn’t a Rugby History lesson. This is about one guy, Doug Schoninger, who could very well be the Most Important Man in Sports.
Schoninger is a regular guy from Great Neck, Long Island, who made Frog You money in bonds an then stadium finance. He’s a sports nut that really didn’t know a whole lot about rugby until about a year and a half ago. Fast-forward to now, and a perfect storm of good fortune, timely relationships and enabling technology have this guy’s business venture into a mano y mano, mucho macho, full-on contact sport, has the NFL nervous, the MLS looking over their shoulders, and countries like New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on the edges of their seats.
But why listen to us when you can hear the story straight from the Most Important Man in Sports? Check out this on-camera interview with Short Matt, moonlighting with our partners at Rugby Wrap Up:
A couple of pertinent Rugby Facts:
-A kid named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball at soccer practice in the 1820s, started running around and got tackled. All involved were stoked and decided this was a cool new sport. Like the creatives that named Long Island so because it was a “long island,” they named their new sport “rugby” because they were at the school named Rugby in the English town named Rugby. Too bad it wasn’t Ho-Ho-Kus or East Rutherford.
-The Rugby World Cup Trophy is the Webb Ellis Trophy.
-Football came from rugby. They separated the scrum at the line of “scrummage” and made them offensive and defensive lines, separated by a line of “scrimmage.”
– There is no blocking in rugby. When you have the ball, you’re on your own vs 15.
-You can’t pass the ball forward, but you can kick it forward.
-When you score, you have to touch the ball down in the [try]zone, otherwise they can pick you up and carry you out, negating any score. That’s why a score is called a “Touchdown” in football, although you don’t have to touch it down, do you?
-In the NFL, there are only 17 minutes of action. In rugby, there’s over 70 minutes in two hours. And that’s a hard two hours.
-If you come out of the game for anything but a blood injury or concussion check, you can’t go back in. Most players play the entire match – both sides of the ball.
-It ain’t soccer. No dives. Real hits. Blood.
So get ready, America. The Most Important Man in Sports may be a regular guy from a “Long Island.”
Please feel free to comment below and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Different Matt, a rugby player of legendary status for the New York Rugby Club, the country’s oldest.