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FOOTBALL fans of all persuasions have languages of their own and for those tuning into the rugby league finals this week, RICHARD TRAVERS is on hand to interpret:

RUGBY league is the sport of choice for women, children, and new Australians.  Far from encouraging violence and confrontation, it is the most inclusive sport in the world.

Women and children have an advantage over new Australians.  They were brought up to speak rugby league.  They know, for example, that the name of the game is correctly pronounced: rubby league.

Learning to speak rubby league is a life skill for new Australians, like knowing Sir Donald Bradman’s batting average.  This is a beginner’s guide.

Rubby league is played on a field marked in a grid pattern.  At both ends of the grid are two lines, called the stroyp.  The aim of the game is to get the ball across the stroyp.

When one side succeeds in getting the ball across the stroyp, it is called Troytoym!

There are two posts on the stroyp, with a horizontal post joining them.  These are called the timberwork.  The timberwork is painted white, except for the middle of the horizontal piece, which is called the black dot.

Scoring is in increments of 4, 2 and 1.  The units of scoring are called poins.

Crossing the stroyp earns 4 poins.  Standard commentary is, thus: Troytoym!  Four-poiner! 

From Troytoym! comes the abbreviation troy – the slang term for crossing the stroyp.

After Troytoym!, the team scoring is given the chance to kick the ball between the timberwork and above the horizontal piece – ideally, right over the black dot – for a two-poiner.

If one side breaks the rules, and the other side is given the option of trying to kick the ball between the timberwork and above the horizontal piece.  This is called going for a two-poiner.

At any time, players may drop kick the ball between the timberwork and above the horizontal piece.  This is a one-poiner or, sometimes, golden poin. 

It is generally okay for players to tread on the ground markings, except when the player holding the ball treads on the marking of the external boundary.  This is called foot on the loin.  Foot on the loin is a bad thing for the ball carrier and a good thing for his opponents.

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It is a serious mistake to confuse foot on the loin with loin breaks.  The best players strive to make as many loin breaks as possible.  A loin break often follows a tackle bust, which is a good thing for the ball carrier and a bad thing for his opponents.

The game is played in sets.  These are sets of six, unless they are sets of seven, or unless there is a set restart, in which case the count starts again.  Teams playing well are said to be complet’n their sets, or complet’n at a high percentage, say, 90%.  

Complet’n at, say, 60% is squander’n the ball.

If a team has not crossed the stroyp by the end of a set, it must deploy its kicking game.   This is a way of transferring possession from one team to the other.  There is no connotation of violence in the use of the term bomb to describe the kicks, but bombing accuracy is applauded.  It is called landing it on a doyme. 

Instead of bombing, the side kicking may choose instead to roll the ball into the in-goal, that is, to kick the ball across the stroyp.  If the defending side cannot take the ball back across the stroyp, it must kick the ball back to the attacking side, which then has a ree-peet set of six.  This is a good thing for the attacking side and a bad thing for the defenders.

The attacking side will allow its slower men to take two or three tackles in mid-field, before spreading it wide to the wingers.  The wingers are the fastest runners, who luvscorinem. 

To score a troy, it is not sufficient to take the ball across the stroyp – the ball must also be grounded.  A lot of game-time is devoted to checking ground’n.  The best form of ground’n is right under the black dot.  

Players who appear unusually confused are sent for haychyay.  Players who infringe seriously are given ten-in-the-bin.  Especially wicked players are marched and given an appointment with the judiciary.   

When it is close to full time and the scores are close, it is called the poiny end.  If it is full time and the scores are equal, there is a tiebreaker, called golden poin. 

The team that wins the game gets two poins.  These poins (not to be confused with the units of scoring) count for position on the ladder. The ladder is not a ladder, but a scale on which teams may be in the 8, or out of the 8.  Being out of the 8 is a bad thing.  Only teams in the 8 can play in September. 

The team that is furthest out of the 8 at the end of the season holds the wooden spoon.  

The rubby league employs officials who can explain why equating coming last with holding the wooden spoon is not a slur on women.  Everyone knows Australian women love cooking almost as much as they love rubby league.  

Author: Richard Travers

Richard Travers is a contributor to Sportshounds



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