Tag Archives: rugby

College Rugby Post-Game Tradition for Rookies

Folk Tradition:

“So I was on the rugby team and so there’s a lot of stupid little rugby traditions that exist, but there’s like 3 fuckin’ million of them. If you’re new, a rookie, and you score your first try (it’s like a touchdown) in a game or a match, after the game there’s always parties, after the game it’s always customary to invite the other team to get shitfaced with you so at the party, so after the game you have to ‘shoot the boot’. You have to fill the cleat you wore with beer and chug it, and while you do it they sing a song and they go like – yell – ‘shoot the boot’ and if you don’t do it fast enough they sing, ‘why are we waiting we should be masturbating’ you have to chug like you would chug anything.” 


This is a college rugby team’s post-game tradition. My informant watched people do it and has done it herself. 

Informant Background:

My informant is 21, from Omaha Nebraska. She is on a college rugby team at a university in Los Angeles.

My Analysis:

I think a lot of young community groups do hazing rituals as initiation ceremonies. They can be mild or dangerous in extreme cases. This is a gross, but mild initiation ceremony to the college rugby community. It makes sense that only those who score in the game get to participate because those are the people who will most likely become the leaders of the community in the future. Drinking is also a common factor in college age initiation rituals.

I think the college rugby community is relatively small compared to other college communities like Greek Life, so it makes sense that opposing teams would convene after to celebrate together. This speaks to the fact that they are more concerned about building community than competition.

Rugby Traditions and Songs


“One thing that we do in Rugby is called ‘shoot the boot.’ So if a rookie scores their first try, which is just like a goal or the equivalent of an American football touchdown, after the game, they have to fill their cleat or their ‘boot’ with beer and drink it all in one go. The other teammates sing a song that goes like, ‘Why are we waiting, we could be masturbating, drink mother fucker, drink!’ So, yeah, also, in rugby, the team sings a lot of provocative songs after every game. A lot of them are about having sex, drinking, respecting Jesus, that sort of thing. The one song that is like the worst goes like, ‘Shit damn fuck a damn, fuck a damn damn. Some mother fucker just fucked my man,’ something like that. I don’t know the exact lyrics to all of them.”


Having played rugby, I know a lot of other rugby players that are more well versed in the folklore of rugby groups than I am. I sat down with one of them and asked specifically about things I’d been a part of, and the informant very eagerly shared this with me.


This is one of the only pieces I collected that I myself have experienced. I have shot the boot, and it is about as terrible as it sounds, but also works as a rite of passage. You aren’t a “real” member of the team until you have participated in this custom, which is very interesting. It also becomes a sort of initiation, as well, and raises the question — can someone still be a rookie if they haven’t scored, but have played for many years? There are some positions in the game that hardly ever score. This piece of folklore had me wondering where it came from, also, and if the sport’s roots in New Zealand and Europe started this, or if it came about when the sport started being played in the United States.


“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/>.

Dirty Jersey and Trophy Helmet: Sport Customs

A Rugby ritual and a Football tradition as told verbatim by informant:

“One of the team rituals we had playing rugby in college was that we wouldn’t wash our jerseys from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. Um, and so, um, I I don’t know what the why it started but that’s how it was told to me and and uh some people believed it made you look like a rougher tougher team um it certainly made us smell worse. And you know I stuck to that tradition um and you know rugby of course can be a very dirty game and particularly if you play in the rain you’d get incredibly muddy and so you know your shirt you could hang outside if it was really full of mud and then it would dry and cake and you could beat your shirt and get the mud off it but still you had to put it on for the next game, so. I tried to instill a similar tradition uh you know when I played rugby in medical school but the, the other guys weren’t as interested in keeping the tradition. (wife interjects, they both laugh, and he repeats) Some of them did it. It bonds you as a team but also again it was for some players a form of intimidation. If you went out there with a clean jersey you looked like a rookie. But if you went out there with a dirty jersey you looked like you really knew how to play the game.

There was a tradition in football too where in um in football you wear a helmet and in the beginning of the season usually the helmet’s nice and clean, it’s been freshly painted. Well, during the season your goal was to collect as many marks on your helmet as you could uh because we use our helmet to hit people and so you wanted to get scratches and scuff marks and you wanted to get at least a color from every team you played against. It was like a collection of trophies from the other team so you wanted to get a color of every single team you were playing against. And that showed you were always hitting people, that you were a tough guy. And you never wanted the coach to re-paint your helmet during the season. In college it’s a little tougher to do because they wanted to re-paint your your helmet all the time. So literally you had to sometimes take your helmet and keep it with you against team rules so that they wouldn’t paint it. I did it in high school for sure and then I tried to do it as much as I could in college.”

While both customs hold little symbolic or abstract meaning, as the informant suggests the factors of team bonding and intimidation signified by the dirty jerseys and marked up helmets play a big role in physically brutal sports like rugby and football. These traditions provide solidarity while still playing the mental game inherent in any competition. Rugby and football also are particularly dangerous, difficult, and “macho” sports, thus jerseys and helmets function like war-paint in battle, as players animalize themselves in the face of their opponents.

Drinking Song

Rugby Drinking Song

Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he’s got holes in his hands

All x2: Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he’s got holes in his hands

Chorus: Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause his father fixes matches

All x2: Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause his father fixes matches

Chorus: Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he only has 12 friends

All x2: Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he only has 12 friends

Chorus: Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he only drinks red wine

All x2: Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he only drinks red wine

Chorus: Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he only knows ten rules

All x2: Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause he only knows ten rules

Chorus: Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause the cross would give him flashbacks

All x2: Jesus can’t play rugby ‘cause the cross would give him flashbacks

Chorus: Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

All x3: God we’re only kidding

All x3: Jesus saves

According to the informant, Matt the song is sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Matt says the rugby team he is a part of sings the song at after game celebrations and really anytime the team gets together to drink. While singing team members may only hold their cup in their left hand. The song is not definite in length or form. According to Matt the first line of each verse can be started by anyone, who has an idea for why Jesus can’t play rugby. To start a new verse a person must put their cup on their head and then say the line they have come up with. If the team approves of the line, they repeat it and the song continues. However if the person messes up or the team disapproves of the line, they dip their hands in their drinks and flick their drinks upon the person who messed up while chanting, “Redeem thyself” until the person come up with a suitable line. Matt says the song lasts until no one can come up with another verse or until the team simply gets bored of singing the song.

Matt told me that the song is a really good way for the team to bond and enjoy having a few beers together. The song is always performed in a very jovial manner. Everyone has fun while singing it, even if they are forced to redeem themselves. He thinks that the song will likely live on as a rugby team tradition. Although he identifies himself as a Catholic, he doesn’t see the song as blasphemous because it is sung in a light and joking manner. He also says the song is really more about rugby than about Jesus. Matt was taught the song, after joining the rugby team, at a post practice get together. He said it was easy to learn and made him feel connected to the team

The song is obviously a very good way for the team to come together and bond. The slightly socially taboo nature of the song makes the participants feel all the more close. The song makes use of many puns that are formed by comparing bible terminology to rugby terminology. The song is a way to demonstrate knowledge of rugby and to show an individual’s creativity through the creation of a funny lyric. The song is a way for the teammates to blow off a little steam after a game or practice and enjoy a few drinks.