“You always hold your drink in your left hand because you shake with your right hand. If we find you with a drink in your right hand, we’ll go, “Drink, motherfucker! Drink, motherfucker! Drink, motherfucker! Drink!” And then, “Why are we waiting when we could be masterbating?” And they have to drink whatever is in their hand—just gobble it all up. So make sure you always hold your drink in your left hand.
“I don’t know about the guys, but for your first try, you have to shoot the boot. And shooting the boot means that we get the person with the nastiest cleat, and we put a beer in there; and the person has to drink it—and that’s if you have your first try.”
The informant of these drinking rules is a member of the USC Women’s Rugby team. The first rule about holding your drink only in your left hand is a rule out of respect for your fellow teammates. According to my informant, despite rugby players’ reputations for being constantly inebriated alcoholics, there is a tradition of respect that exists. The players like their drinks, but they also want to show respect for their fellow players and those outside of the team by shaking with the proper hand, even though the consequence for not showing the proper respect for others is to down your drink as fast as you can and become more plastered than before.
The other drinking tradition in rugby culture is known as “shooting the boot.” It is more of a celebratory tradition where the rest of the players honor a person’s first try (equivalent to a touchdown if we are thinking in American football terms) while also incorporating a mildly disgusting element of someone’s dirty, sweaty cleat.
My informant has had first-hand experiences of both of these traditions. In her opinion, though they are rough, irresponsible, and rather gross practices, the traditions have helped to bond the team. I think this is definitely true—there is something exclusive about these rules because only people embedded in rugby culture are aware of them. Rules like these have helped to shape the culture, thereby creating a social circle that is set apart from the rest of society.