Belmont Shore Rugby Club will play it’s next home game at Long Beach State on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m., and former England international rugby player and coach, Ed Robinson, is inviting the whole city.
Admission is free and the rugby field is located behind Jack Rose Track on the LBSU campus.
Robinson will be providing The562.org with local rugby updates periodically, and is starting by answering a few simple questions:
What Is Rugby?
Rugby is the second most popular game in the world after soccer, and it’s also the historical forerunner of our American football. It was established in 1823 at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England when a student, William Webb Ellis, “with fine disregard for the rules” outrageously picked up the ball and ran with it during a soccer game. An opponent tackled him, and the idea caught on.
The first recorded rugby match in America was in 1874 between Harvard and McGill University, and the original rugby ball, a pig’s bladder, was spherical. It was eventually replaced by an oval, leather ball.
In the 1880s a star rugby player from Yale named Walter Camp pioneered rule changes that slowly transformed rugby into the new game of American football. There are similarities in the two games such as passing, kicking and running into the end zone to score a “try” or touchdown, but the addition of helmets and protective padding, coupled with the yardage rules, has encouraged head-on and more violent tackling in football.
Football also added many more players than rugby’s 15 who play attack and defense with hardly any timeouts.
It could be argued that rugby is a much faster and entertaining game, but because of little promotion or funding it has not yet gained such popularity. Ironically, because of the increased awareness of football head injuries such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), many football coaches are now adopting the less dangerous (head to the side) rugby tackling techniques.
Why Is Belmont Shore Rugby Club In Long Beach?
The club was first established here by Stu Ledsam, the current club president, and John Morris, who now manages Boathouse by the Bay. Building on their initial enthusiasm and several international players and coaches on perennially strong Long Beach State teams, the club has won the USA National Championship seven times.
Spectators who have attended games regularly comment on the athleticism, skill level, fitness, team spirit and sportsmanship of the Belmont players. Possibly even more impressive is the interest and potential shown by an increasing number of local young players who are undoubtedly staging a “rugby revolution” here in Long Beach.
There are now over 400 boys and girls (5-18 years) regularly playing and practicing in our local parks. They are coached and nurtured by a group of extremely talented and dedicated international coaches who, from the outset, emphasize the importance of team work, citizenship and respect.
The benefits of this program stretch way beyond the playing field and we look forward to seeing their almost guaranteed future success.
Founded in 1964, Belmont Shore Rugby Football club is one of the premier rugby clubs in the United States, with a history of Championship winning teams throughout the age groups. Located in Long Beach, Ca the club has a flourishing youth program, a traditionally dominate men’s program, and a women’s team competing in Division 1.