Rugby Song: Jesus Can’t Play Rugby


University of Southern California

USC Rugby

International Relations

Italian, Arabic, English

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

23 April 2011

Rugby Song, “Jesus Can’t Play Rugby”

Transcription (because it would not be the same if not sung in context)

One person :”Jesus can’t play Rugby because he’s hung up on the cross.”

Everybody repeats twice, followed by “Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves”

Next person: “Jesus can’t play rugby ’cause his mother was a whore.”

Everybody repeats twice, followed by “Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves”


Everybody: “God you know were only kidding, God you know were only kidding, God you know were only kidding, Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves”

CG explains that the Rugby song, and songs like it, is a definite part of the rugby experience and rugby traditions at USC. He mentions that he doesn’t think that that it particular to just USC rugby, and he believes that he once heard another rugby player from another school mention it. CG explains that the context to the performance of this song is very important. The songs are generally only sung when there is a large gathering of rugby players and there are copious amounts of alcohol. The purpose of the event, in his words, is to have a good time while getting really drunk. CG mentions that the majority of the rugby songs are raunchy, sexist, and offensive. He explains that it is all in good fun and in no way should be taken seriously.  He explains that the culture of rugby is defined by a duality: one offensive and dirty, the other “gentlemanly.” To explain this, CG stated, “You know how soccer is described as a gentleman’s sport played by hooligans? Well, rugby is a hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen.”

Looking at the song, and having witnessed the context that it was performed; I find that the significance behind it as reported by CG is logical. The song, without a doubt is offensive, and borders on inappropriate. However, I believe this is the reason that the rugby team sings it. In a way, the team is looking to push/test the boundaries of what is appropriate in society. It is supposed to be shocking, as participants will often comment on just how bad it is. I also agree with the statement that it is not inherently meant to be offensive. Having known the informant for several years, I can safely say that he is religious and a practicing Catholic. Looking at the song, the structure and wording of it is designed to demonstrate that the participants don’t really mean what their saying. Each different line is finished with the statement “Jesus saves,” and the ending clearly demonstrates this. The second purpose of the song is to test members on rugby “lore.” After one person completes a line, another person is picked out to recite another line. If the person fails or stumbles, everybody dips there hands into their beer and throws it at the individual yelling, “Redeem thyself” until they can think of a new line. The song is a way for the team to include younger individuals and make them feel apart of a group.

The clip below is an example of some of the lyrics to the song.