5 Warfare Concepts That Explain Rugby | The Diplomat

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Football is king come fall. Spending part of the season Down Under, however, converted the Naval Diplomat into a low-grade — very low-grade — rugby fan. I now sport the gold and green of the Wallabies, the Australian national rugby-union team, along with the Vanderbilt black and gold and the Georgia red and black.

Rugby should appeal to strategists and tacticians because sportsmen put the ideas of the greats — the Clausewitzes, Sun Tzus, and Corbetts — to work right there on the pitch. Sure, that's true of football as well. But in that case it comes in ten-second-odd, regimented, highly scripted increments. Rugby action seldom stops. A score, a penalty, dismemberment of a player — that's about it. Otherwise the match hurtles along at helter-skelter speed. Five concepts from strategic theory that manifest themselves on rugby fields:

1.      Offense, defense: Clausewitz portrays defense as the stronger form of warfare, offense the more decisive. So too in sport. How the side on the defense can engineer a transition to the offense, and how the side on the offense may suffer a battlefield reverse, is a recurring question for strategists. In rugby, offense/defense transitions seemingly take place every second of game play. A match is like mercury, reversing flow erratically. Must be fun to be a cameraman trying to track the action for TV viewers.

Written By: James Holmes
continue to source article at thediplomat.com

25 COMMENTS

  1. I guess Rugby is ok if you like hugging other men.
    killing, maiming and destroying the lives of people and children with bombs and bullets fired at the speed of sound it ain’t.

    Any comparison is pathetic.

    Dismemberment of a Rugby player, when does that happen?
    He does know what dismemberment means doesn’t he?

    • In reply to #1 by jjbircham:

      I guess Rugby is ok if you like hugging other men.
      killing, maiming and destroying the lives of people and children with bombs and bullets fired at the speed of sound it ain’t.

      I played it in high school. I don’t think I was ever injured other than maybe a scraped knee. Perhaps the pros play it more roughly, especially the Australians.

    • In reply to #1 by jjbircham:

      I guess Rugby is ok if you like hugging other men.
      killing, maiming and destroying the lives of people and children with bombs and bullets fired at the speed of sound it ain’t.

      Any comparison is pathetic.

      Dismemberment of a Rugby player, when does that happen?
      He does know what dismemberment means…

      Actually, one of our team members lost a finger two years ago in a game. Not quite the same but it is dismemberment. The player who fractured his next last year is doing much better. Were my ribs external I would be missing several pieces. We don’t actually hug, you’d probably get your face beat in if you gave a “hug”during the game (after is fine and welcome). And the only people who avoid the game for fear of hugging another man are insecure homophobes.

      I get pleasure from physically and mentally beating an opponent, Rugby gives me that opportunity. Having played American Football throughout high school and rugby for 29 years (I’m 42 and we are just finishing the season here in Canada) I’m glad to see the military taking an interest in Rugby. I always found football to be too militaristic. Rugby is a team sport that requires on the fly strategy that everyone on the field has to develop. The coach is in the stands with the rest of the spectators.

      One strategy that was left out is the act of creating an overlap. One way to do this is to attack your opponent where they are strong with a smaller force. The object is to secure the ball and recycle it quickly while tying up a large number of their players with fewer of yours. This creates the overlap. You have more players moving the ball than they have defenders, as you have tied them up in the attack. Just don’t give up the ball in the process.

  2. like most sports, rugby boils down to a bunch of grown men in tight-fitting costumes doing something violent to a bit of leather. there’s nothing intrinsically interesting about it, and so, as with most other religions, it must put a lot into the way it is presented and marketed. and, again like religions, it doesn’t really deserve the amount of attention it gets, and should be practiced in the privacy of one’s home or club rooms or grounds. the public should not be indoctrinated into it from an early age as this is child abuse, and no public money should be invested in it at all.

  3. Well there is no doubt that I’m sick now because I’m going to come to the defense of a sport. (I am feeling better, my daughter made one of her herbal, natural, wicca potions — just kidding on the wiccs, I think) and whatever was in it helped a lot.

    Anyway, I know almost nothing about Rugby but I think it’s like American football. And of all our sports the only one that I actually still can enjoy watching is football. There is a lot of strategy, each play deciding whether to pass or run, deep or short. Actually, my name is even partly inspired by an American football play, a “red dog” is when the defense rushes the quarterback. It’s one of the most aggressive plays the defense can do, if it works they sack the quarterback for a loss but if the quarterback is fast enough and completes a short pass that can turn into a big gain for the offense.

    Wow, am I rambling or what? Anyway, I like the strategy in American Football and also it can be somewhat beautiful the grace and excellence that some of these guys display. Walter Payton was a running back when I was a kid and he was amazing to watch. So if Rugby is anything like American Football I’m going to defend it. I have now officially proven that I really am a guy and I can go back to sipping my herbal tea and listening to the Indigo Girls.

    • In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

      Well there is no doubt that I’m sick now because I’m going to come to the defense of a sport. (I am feeling better, my daughter made one of her herbal, natural, wicca potions — just kidding on the wiccs, I think) and whatever was in it helped a lot.

      Anyway, I know almost nothing about Rugby but I…

      The only similarity Rugby has with American Football is that both games are played with a ball of a similar shape. Rugby has a lot more ‘biff’ and the players wear far less protective clothing, ( a mouth guard and some protective headwear is just about it). By the end of the game, it’s possible that a player will be beaten to a bloody pulp ( reference thanks to Mr Burns of Simpson’s fame).

      I don’t follow football ( Rugby) at all, but I know what it looks like and that New Zealand is the team to beat. They perform the Haka ( war dance) before the start of play and their opponents are wise to look away.

  4. I worry about Ruby in Australia. I note that they still have group showers, now Ruby out here is worth loads of money so I don’t see why they can’t afford individual showers other than as some sort of masculine team building exercise (which is ironic considering how homophobic we Aussies are). I know this seems out of left field but the trouble we have with these sorts of sports is this all for the team mentality combined with the money seems to be leading to very poor behaviour off-field – just like behaviours that often happen in military. There have been a number of accusations of gang rapes of fans and it’s notable that no rugby player has been successfully charged with rape as a result of these incidences. And I’m not silly enough to think that simply installing cubicles would stop this but this all for the team mentality is not healthy.

  5. Sport is a topic rarely discussed on RD.net, but I must say I am hugely disappointed by the response this post has provoked from some. Most particularly the thinly disguised homophobic comments about men hugging, tight-fitting costumes and group showers. What team sports do not have group showers?

    RD.net members really should know better

    Despite its macho image, Rugby Union has actually been a tremendous example, leading the way in terms of inclusion policies; including the Australian Rugby Union, which is main nation in the OP.
    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/rugby-australian-union-commits-fight-homophobia-014623773.html

    Gay players are very much accepted.
    How many American Footballers have ‘come out’?

    And as for Net’s comments (post 5) implying that children should not be indoctrinated into Rugby because this is child abuse akin to religion; well words fail me!
    Rugby attracts much lower investment and public funding / private funding than many other sports. I am thinking particularly of football (soccer to some) and American football.

    Rugby is a beautiful sport, played world wide. It is a hard physical game, but generally played with great sportsmanship. I know of no other sport are few where each team lines up and applauds the other team off the pitch at the end of the match.
    Rugby Union is also played by women. There are 15-a-side, 10-a-side and 7-a-side variants. Rugby 7s is now an Olympic sport. And there is a non-contact version that is brilliant for all ages, but most particularly younger children who can play the game with mixed boys and girls.

    I recommend any American members with anti-rugby tendencies to take a good look at the annual Las Vegas Rugby 7s world series. You might be surprised!

    This particular rugby fan is looking forwards to the Autumn International series. http://www.therugbyblog.com/autumn-internationals-fixtures
    and relishing Scotland’s first match against Japan!

  6. Sport is a topic rarely discussed on RD.net, and I must say I am hugely disappointed by the response this post has provoked from some. Most particularly the poorly disguised homophobic comments about men hugging, tight-fitting costumes and group showers. What team sports do not have group showers?

    RD.net members really should know better

    Despite its macho image, Rugby Union has actually been a tremendous example of leading the way in terms of inclusion policies; including the Australian Rugby Union, which is main nation in the OP.

    Australian Union Fights Homophobia

    Gay players are very much accepted.
    How many American Footballers have ‘come out’?

    Post 5 implies that children should not be indoctrinated into Rugby because this is child abuse akin to religion; well words fail me!

    Rugby attracts much lower investment and public funding / private funding than many other sports. I am thinking particularly of football (soccer to some) and American football.

    Rugby is a beautiful sport, played worldwide. It is a hard physical game, but generally played with great sportsmanship. I know of no other sport are few where each team lines up and applauds the other team off the pitch at the end of the match.
    Rugby Union is also played by women. There are 15-a-side, 10-a-side and 7-a-side variants. Rugby 7s is now an Olympic sport. And there is a non-contact version that is brilliant for all ages, but most particularly younger children who can play the game with mixed boys and girls.

    I recommend any members with anti-rugby tendencies to take a good look at the annual Rugby 7s world series. It’s difficult to imagine a more entertaining, fast action sport. Of course, each to their own, but you might be surprised!

    This particular atheist rugby fan is looking forwards to the Autumn International series. Autumn International Fixtures and relishing Scotland’s first match against Japan!

  7. Most sport is basically a civilised substitute for warfare. That’s one reason why womens’ sport is much less favoured in the media. It’s really all about men beating up or humiliating other men. With the winners presumably attaining public adulation and glory, and better access to available women. It doesn’t really work the other way around.

    It’s a recognised issue in Australia. Here’s a reference to AFPD (Australian Football Personality Disorder):

    http://www.leunig.com.au/index.php/recent-cartoons/146-football-disorder

    They say that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. And there are Australian football equivalents: E.g. Battles at the Portaloo where the winning skills were developed on the playing fields of Western Sydney. Plus the epic battle of Bondi beach was closely fought between supporters of rugby codes and the various Muslim tribes of Western Sydney (who presumably favour soccer). Outcome was never resolved owing to the early intervention of the referees. (I.e. Police riot squads and water cannons.) Though they’re overdue for a rematch. Unfortunately many football related sports are marred by such over-refereeing, where the referee becomes the most important player in the game.

      • In reply to #15 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #11 by Pete H:

        Most sport is basically a civilised substitute for warfare.

        Games too! Chess has the basic pieces of medieval politics, jousts and battles.

        Well, speaking of war games, this is going to be a bit of a plug for a web site but as long as I don’t repeat it ten times and put a link to my photography business as someone else did recently I think the mods will let me get away with it.

        I don’t own a TV or cable and hardly ever watch things online but I do have one dumb way I like to pass time. There is a UK company that makes war strategy games called Hunted Cow Studios. They started from a group of gamers at a site called hexwar. These aren’t first person shooter games, these are games by people who take war gaming seriously, they are based on actual battles, weapons, terrain, etc. And before computers they were commercialized versions of the kinds of games used at war colleges to simulate strategy and tactics.

        The goal is as much to provide a simulation of battle tactics as to see if you can beat the AI. You are in charge of forces at the brigade or division level. I’m a bit of a military history buff and one of the first amazing things I noticed is that the actual tactics you use to win are similar to what you would read the commanders doing in the real world. So for example when you play the German side you try to set your tanks up with long fields of fire because your tanks can destroy the Americans while the American tanks are so far away that their shells will literally bounce off. And when you are the American you do the opposite, if you see some Tiger tanks you either just run away if you only have a few vehicles or if you can you move as quickly as possible and get right on top of them, when you are really close you can do damage to the Tigers and the American tanks being lighter are far more mobile and can swarm much faster on the slower moving Germans.

        Anyway, by now you are either totally bored or have stopped reading or maybe at least one of you is saying “holy Shit that sounds awesome!” and if you are like me and hate war in the real world but are fascinated by the strategy and tactics then trust me it is! I’ve read quite a bit about various concepts like flanking, concentration of force, etc. but the Hunted Cow games really allow you to see what it might look like in the real world via accurate and fun simulations.

    • In reply to #11 by Pete H:

      Most sport is basically a civilised substitute for warfare. That’s one reason why womens’ sport is much less favoured in the media. It’s really all about men beating up or humiliating other men. With the winners presumably attaining public adulation and glory, and better access to available women. I…

      Agreed! The only sport worse that Rugby and its derivatives is boxing. Why any self-respecting human being would want to watch other humans beating each other mercilessly leaves me speechless. The ultimate humiliation, being knocked unconscious in front of a huge audience of people wanting to see blood.

  8. Three words: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

    This is the future of contact sports or rather the future of the players. This degenerative neurological condition was once thought to be only present in boxing and only in athletes who had suffered repeated concussions. But now, traces of the tau protein (the smoking gun of CTE) was found post-mortem in the brain of players who never even had a concussion.

    Even worse, what was once thought to be only present in professional sports is now seen more and more in college and even in high school football players. The go-to person in this study in the neuropathologist Ann McKee at Boston University. PBS recently aired a documentary about this subject and it is a shocker:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/

  9. A greater percentage of us in Australia prefer the Australian Rules version of football, especially outside the states of New South Wales and Queensland. However, the basic premise of the article as far as strategy and tactics are concerned are still prevelent. The basic aims of such ball-sport games (football) are about forcing your way forward with the ball, whilst your opponent is trying to stop you and then force the ball forward their way. All that changes through the various codes are the means with which you are allowed or not allowed to do so.

    There are a lot of things that one can learn about yourself in the sporting arena. In the game of cricket (similar to baseball), the Batter has to come up with solutions to questions that the bowler asks. In order to improve, one has to look at ways of improving technique to deal with what gets thrown up.

    It’s just a pity that the population as a whole doesn’t look into their academic efforts the way they treat their sporting efforts… Any one for Strava Maths?

    • In reply to #16 by DeepFritz:

      A greater percentage of us in Australia prefer the Australian Rules version of football,

      Speak for yourself. Though I don’t follow any code, I know which game is supposed to be the best. :-)

  10. When Arrowhead Stadium (Chiefs) first opened, they had “chief” riding a horse (Warpaint) after each touchdown. Fans did the “tomahawk chop” to support the offense. Those days are long gone; obviously very un PC.

    Us vs Them has segued in other ways. Last week fans broke the record for loudest stadium noise. It’s part of ongoing “rivalry” between the Chiefs and Raiders. Hatfields and McCoys of the astroturf.

  11. Contact sports are NOT a civilized substitute for warfare, they ARE warfare with real casualties. I don’t see what’s so civilized about men trying to inflict as much harm as possible to their opponent(s) for the sake of a stupid game.

    This is nothing but the 21st century version of gladiator blood sports. It’s about violence to please the masses, BIG money for the team’s shareholders and permanent physical damage for the players. It doesn’t belong in a world where science, reason, beauty, altruism and care for your fellow human being is the norm. Now we all know that world is far away in the future at best but this kind of institutionalized activity is one of the things that sets it further back by centuries.

    Time to evolve humanity. Life is too short and too precious to waste it on such moronic obscenity.

    • In reply to #22 by NearlyNakedApe:

      Contact sports are NOT a civilized substitute for warfare, they ARE warfare with real casualties. I don’t see what’s so civilized about men trying to inflict as much harm as possible to their opponent(s) for the sake of a stupid game.

      This is nothing but the 21st century version of gladiator blood…

      Although I agree with you and wouldn’t enjoy watching a game at all, I was told that it was an example of sublimation of natural urges.

      • In reply to #23 by Nitya:

        In reply to #22 by NearlyNakedApe:

        Contact sports are NOT a civilized substitute for warfare, they ARE warfare with real casualties. I don’t see what’s so civilized about men trying to inflict as much harm as possible to their opponent(s) for the sake of a stupid game.

        This is nothing but the 21st…

        Yes, and I bloody love it. Good thing no one is forced to play… anymore. Sorry private school boys of yesteryear. I bet you’ve never crushed a person twice your size with a well placed blow. It’s thrilling.

        Did you know that scuba gear is just a 20th century version of gills.

    • In reply to #22 by NearlyNakedApe:

      Contact sports are NOT a civilized substitute for warfare, they ARE warfare with real casualties. I don’t see what’s so civilized about men trying to inflict as much harm as possible to their opponent(s) for the sake of a stupid game.

      This is nothing but the 21st century version of gladiator blood…

      I don’t know anything about Rugby but I played plenty of American football as a kid and I enjoyed it a lot. I agree though that the business side is wrong in many ways, such a waste of money and effort, if people gave issues like climate change the same amount of energy the world would be a much better place. But I wouldn’t go so far as to indict all contact sports, I think with the proper supervision and safety (even though we never had any of that when I was a kid) they are a reasonable way for boys to get exercise and learn about team work.

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