“Keeping Them Honest”

“So,“Keeping them honest” it was the phrase that basically meant cover your man in rugby. I heard it from the coach and my teammates, so it was basically used to refer to just blocking him, and provide cover for the other guys, and just to also make sure he doesn’t outrun you.”

Informant: The Informant is twenty years old, and attends the University of Texas at Austin. When he attended a Jesuit high school for boys only, he was a member of the rugby team. The school is a Jesuit Dallas, a Catholic college preparatory high-school.


This particular phrase caught my interest because it did not quite make sense to me. This can be attributed to its categorization of occupational folklore, because it is a phrase that would not easily be understood by anyone outside of the organization within the context of a rugby game. When I think of “keeping someone honest,” I think of trying to convince someone not to do something inherently wrong, so as not to compromise their character. I would never have imagined it to be used in the game of rugby, which is a very rough sport that does not appear to be sophisticated from an outsider’s perspective. A phrase that uses the term “honest” would most likely be associated with something that is of a sophisticated quality.

However, from the inside, rugby requires distinct amounts finesse, and it has many different strategic and complicated facets to it as well. Therefore, it requires strength of mind, body, and character to undertake the challenge of participating in this sport, as it is very strenuous. It also requires seamless teamwork, which would require each man to successfully perform his position so that the other team members can be successful as well. Because of this element of character that is involved in the game of rugby, the term “keeping them honest” makes sense within the context of the game. Although it is a very rough sport, they are determined to remain “honest.” It could also mean that in “keeping them honest,” the player is trying to block the player on the other team from doing something bad, or something he may regret, as one would convince a friend to remain honest.

This term is used not just on this high school team, but in referring to the defense enacted by many professional rugby teams as well. In an article published in 2014 in the newsletter “Planet Rugby,” the term is employed to describe how one rugby team won a game because they were able to hold their defense and not let the other team score. It is mentioned on another news website in New Zealand in describing how one team is able to hold the offense in order to win the games. This affirms the use of the term “keeping them honest” as a widely accepted term in rugby, although it is very hard to find in America, as the sport of rugby itself is not as widely acclaimed as football or baseball.


“Super Rugby Bonus Points System Set for Overhaul.” Newshub. NewshubNZ, 21 Jan. 2016.       Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <http://www.newshub.co.nz/sport/super-rugby-bonus-points-      system-set-for-overhaul–report-2016012112#axzz46PGBU1AU>.


“Highlanders Hold On to Defeat Rebels.” Planet Rugby. Planet Rugby, 4 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Apr.            2016. <http://www.planetrugby.com/news/highlanders-hold-on-to-defeat-rebels/>.