03 March 2013

Sports Center Saturday - Rugby

Wallace Arthur Beardsell, my Great Grandfather, was born 23 August 1862 in Holme, Yorkshire, England.  Stories shared and passed down from his daughter, Edith Rose (Beardsell) Lindsey and his Grand Sons Arthur and John say that Wallace was an accomplished Rugby player in Holmfirth, England before he and his family – Elizabeth Ann (Rowbottom), wife; Jane Ann (Jennie), daughter and George Arthur, son – emigrated to Pennsylvania.  Wallace arrived in Philadelphia, PA in 1893 on the ship Ohio and was followed, five years later by Elizabeth and his two children – Jane Ann (Jennie) and George Arthur – on the ship Russia in 1898.
Recently I have been searching through the Huddersfield Chronicle Newspaper archives, and with the help of some on-line genealogical friends from The Conservatory (in response to one of my queries), I have come across some reports of he and his Holmfirth team and teammates.  These are just a few. 

The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle - 29 March 1887

 The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle - 22 August 1887

 The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle - 14 Janaury 1888

There have been a few added bonuses to this recent research and reading of these newspaper reports . . .
1.    Other persons with the surname of Beardsell are mentioned; are these relatives of Wallace?

2.    In addition to Wallace Beardsell receiving mention in the newspapers for his involvement in Rugby, he is also mentioned in another article as winning an award for his participation in the Holmfirth Agricultural Society’s Show Sporting Event.  A nice insight into his daily living, hobbies and / or interests.
Now, I am not familiar at all, with the sport of Rugby; I have a vague knowledge and understanding that it is similar to U.S. Football and I believe that U.S. Football is a direct descendant, if you will, to Rugby.  And, there ends my knowledge on the subject.  So, because of some of the terms used to describe Wallace and his teammate’s play and accomplishments during the game(s) described in the articles, I have availed myself of Google search to learn more.

Rugby Positions
Each team starts the match with 15 players on the field and seven substitutes.  Players are divided into eight forwards (two more then in rugby league) and seven backs.

Note:  There is Rugby Union and Rugby League; the number of players differ depending which you are affiliated with.
Forwards: (The position my Great Grandfather, Wallace Beardsell played) Their main responsibility was to gain and retain possession of the ball.  Players in these positions are generally bigger and stronger and take part in what is known as the scrum and line-out.  Forwards are often collectively referred to as the ‘pack,’ especially when in scrum formation.

Scoring:  Points can be scored in several ways:

Try (worth 5 points): Scored by grounding the ball in the in-goal area (between the goal line and the dead ball line
A try is the highest number of points a rugby team can score at one time; similar to scoring a touchdown in U.S. football.  In fact, rugby is where the term ‘touchdown’ came from, because the ball must actually be touched down for a try to be awarded.

Conversion Kick (worth 2 points):
Penalty (or Drop Goal) Kick (worth 3 points):

Playing Field:
The field of play is as near as possible to a maximum of 144 meters long and 70 meters wide.  In actual gameplay there should be a maximum of 100 meters between the two trylines, with anywhere between 10 and 22 meters behind each try line to serve as the in-goal area.  Rugby goal are H-shaped and consist of two poles, 5.6 meters apart, connected with a horizontal cross bar 3 meters above the ground – think U.S. Football Goal Post.  Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_union for more information on the Playing field.

Scrum: A way of restarting the game safely and fairly after a minor infringement.  It is awarded when the ball has been knocked or passed forward, if a player takes the ball over his own try line and puts the ball down, when a player is accidentally offside or when the ball is trapped in a ruck or maul with no realistic chance of being retrieved.  A team may also opt for a scrum if awarded a penalty.
A scrum is formed by the eight forwards (my Great Grandfather would have been one of them) from each team binding together in three rows.  This formation is known as the 3-4-1 formation.  Once a scrum is formed the scrum-half from the team awarded the feed throws the ball into the gap between the two front-rows known as the tunnel . . . the side that wins possession transfers the ball to the back of the scrum, where it is picked up either by the number 8 or by the scrum-half.  For more information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_union

It has been fun reading about Wallace and Rugby and attempting to learn more about his sport; although I must admit, it is still a bit confusing.  And sadly, I am not much better about understanding U.S. Football either.  Unfortunately, the genetic predisposition of sports enthusiasm and competitive sports acumen were not passed down through the generations, to me, Wallace’s Great Granddaughter.  LOL!



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