The rugby world is well known for its hard-hitting and sometimes bizarre humour but also its poignant and hilarious quotes which reveal a universal meaning that not only the glorious sport of rugby generates but can instil the rugby values and principles into a more widespread audience. One of the most profound but outrageously funny quotes ever said with a wry smile during an interview by the Irish international player Brian O’Driscoll: ‘Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.’ Brian played for Leinster and captained Ireland during his illustrious 15 year career which earned him a place in the World Rugby Hall of Fame, he retired in 2014 and works as a TV analyst for BT and ITV Sport channels. Many other famous people have commented on rugby over the years and the most used and well known quote is ‘Rugby is a hooligans game played by gentlemen.’ This was allegedly said by Sir Winston Churchill, UK WWII Prime Minister.
Since rugby union only became classed as a professional sport in 1995 as personified by David Campese in 1991: "I'm still an amateur, of course, but I became rugby's first millionaire five years ago," today’s modern game involving earnings in excess of a million pounds per season the emphasis on fitness and stamina requirements tends to downplay the social drinking aspect which rugby traditionally holds dear. The 3rd half is a must, in fact Chris Laidlaw, from the great Scottish rugby playing Laidlaw family coined the tradition with ‘Beer and Rugby are more or less synonymous.’ So true and further confirmed by Welsh international Adam Jones when asked about team bond-building: ‘I have always found beer to be the thing for these sort of things to be honest. I think people get caught up in team building exercises but if you lock 35 guys in a bar, I think that is probably the best way.’ Even Arnie Schwarzenegger, The Terminator once said: ‘Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer,’ and the rugby fraternity certainly uphold this sacred ritual of sharing a beer or two post-match while the spectators watch the game doing it.
When the beer is flowing freely after the match the Rugby Sing-Song makes its appearance, these songs are by nature bawdy and involve taking ones clothes off. The naked rugby player is a thing that is only peculiar to rugby, other sports have spectator streakers but rugby has players that get naked as was witnessed at the Krakow Rugby Festival when an English player arrived at the stadium on a bicycle and rode around the pitch naked holding a union jack flag then a grand finale finish on the slider canvass under the posts in the buff much to the appreciation of all attending. It happens in pubs, clubs and other rugby team gatherings, you could say willy nilly really.
Female rugby players have been known to go topless and full on nakedness but it is usually for a fund-raising calendar event, however, it is a growing trend and male teams are following suit with their version of the Full Monty calendar.
Rugby is an all-inclusive sport and a player’s physique or stature was neatly summed up by a famous Irish comedian, poet, playwright and rugby player Spike Milligan: "Rugby is a game for big buggers. if you're not a big bugger, you get hurt. I wasn't a big bugger but I was a fast bugger and therefore I avoided the big buggers." The essence of rugby explained with humour though the in-team rivalry between the forwards or big buggers and backs or fast buggers which has created and fosters some sharp humour that cuts deep if your ovals are not big enough. One description on the rivalry between forwards and backs is: “The Holy Writ of Gloucester Rugby Club demands: first, that the forwards shall win the ball; second, that the forwards shall keep the ball; and third, the backs shall buy the beer.”
There is a very healthy After Dinner Speaker circuit in rugby and the stars of rugby relish telling their stories of insider knowledge that the general public would never know unless they bought published player biographies which is another popular trend for top players after hanging up their boots. Bill Beaumont who is the current Chairman of World Rugby had his say on this rivalry: “If I had been a winger, I might have been daydreaming and thinking about how to keep my kit clean for next week.” Clearly inferring that forwards do all the work and the backs are only glory boys and yet another scathing remark on backs from forward by the Aussie ex-lock forward, Peter Fitzsimmons who definitely repudiates the backs with: “Rugby backs can be identified because they generally have clean jerseys and identifiable partings in their hair… come the revolution the backs will be the first to be lined up against the wall and shot for living parasitically off the work of others.” No mincing words there, although in truth the team does play as one and for each other, you win together and lose together and this seemingly corrosive banter is meted out in training or the dressing-room, never on the pitch or as an unknown author wrote: “Forwards win games, backs decide by how much,” bless him or, indeed, her.
The fans of rugby are also responsible for some poignant advice as in 1995 when N. Zealand were to play England in a world cup semi-final the All Blacks received a fax that said: “Remember that rugby is a team game; all 14 of you make sure you pass the ball to Jonah.” Jonah Lomu absolutely steamrollered England on an unforgettable day for him and rugby.
Rugby is a fascinating sport and is often misunderstood by newcomers but also by people in the game as bloopers do occur, Colin Cooper the Hurricanes head coach told his players this: “You guys line up alphabetically by height.” and “You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle.” The intrinsic meaning is very profound. Commentators are very much in the firing line of bloopers of the same ilk as Coach Cooper when Kiwi commentator Murray Mexted blurted out such beauties as: "Andy Ellis — the 21-year-old, who turned 22 a few weeks ago,’ and "Strangely, in slow-motion replay, the ball seemed to hang in the air for even longer," but a real 5 star classic comment was: "You don't like to see hookers going down on players like that." Scotland’s rugby hero and regarded as the voice of rugby commentators Bill McLaren has made many legendary quips while covering games, his wit was truly unique, on Jonah Lomu he said: “I’m no hod carrier but I would be laying bricks if he was running at me,” and “He’s like a demented ferret up a wee drainpipe.” Bill commentated on rugby matches for over 50 years and was loved dearly by all in rugby and on his retirement he said the best thing of doing this job was never having to pay for a pint in all that time.