PETER SHORTELL'S ANALYSIS OF BOOK & DAI'S REPLY
posted 1st January 2018 on Museum of Rugby blog
About this time last year I had just enjoyed reading Dai Richards’ book (a Christmas present) and we exchanged a couple of emails as a consequence. I think his idea that a particular tree might have been the origin of the unusual H-shaped goals is a little fanciful. I prefer the explanation in Jennifer Macrory’s book “Running with the ball”: –
Dai Richards reply (removed from website ???)
Hi Peter - Thank you for your interest in this blog article. I welcome the opportunity to make an analysis of your comments and during this analysis I offer you challenges relating to your comments and ask you questions. These are your opportunities to make a reply to this post and to educate me further. I will cover your points individually as you said them and that way we will avoid any confusion.
Peter says: About this time last year I had just enjoyed reading Dai Richards’ book (a Christmas present) and we exchanged a couple of emails as a consequence. I think his idea that a particular tree might have been the origin of the unusual H-shaped goals is a little fanciful. I prefer the explanation in Jennifer Macrory’s book “Running with the ball”: –
“Nor must we forget the tree that helped to form Case’s Gallows, a peculiar goal set up in his school days by the present Waynflete Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford in which the cross-bar was formed by a horizontal branch of a tree which met the short arm of the “gallows”. It stood between Old Bigside and the Chapel Piece.” – HCBR089
Peter uses the word "fanciful". I'm a little miffed with this word and believe it questions the integrity of my research. There is no apology needed if this is in intended to be used in a derogatory form. I have accepted the use of this word to describe my analysis as a 'challenge' and return my opinion with interest, there will be no apologies offered, this is Rugby after all what happens on the blog stays on the blog and we can shake hands and be the best of friends off the blog.
This word 'fanciful' according to the Oxford Popular English Dictionary means "existing only in imagination or fancy". I would take this to mean that I imagined the above quote. If this is the case then maybe I also imagined the extensive research I did on Rugby School and its environs. Perhaps I imagined that some trees at Rugby School gained legendary status and invented themselves such names such as Treen's Tree (MBRN092) and the Roller Tree (FMRU016). I have such a good imagination that I saw that tree's were even included in the first set of rules.
Rule xviii. – A player having touched the ball straight for a tree, and touched the tree with it, may drop from either side if he can, but the opposite side may oblige him to go to his own side of the tree.” – FORU012
At Rugby School there were tree's here, trees there, there were trees everywhere. How fanciful am I imaging all that.
and look at all those silly low branches pretending to be crossbars, what a fanciful illusion.
Peter also said:
“The numerous goalkeepers were expressly forbidden to climb onto the crossbar to try to intercept, but they did have a job to do in the early games. They were guardians of the goal line, and as such were responsible for making sure that loose balls were touched down before the enemy could get to them.”
I can see no explanation just a historical observation, perhaps I should have been reading between the lines or I went to the wrong school or maybe Peter should clarify what the explanation is here as to the origin of the Rugby Posts and/or crossbar ?
During my analysis, the question I ask in my book about the shape of rugby posts is:
"Are rugby posts the shape that they are because they were originally two trees standing together? Or maybe it’s that one post represents one tree, the crossbar represents a branch and the other post is just a support for the crossbar?" (DRIC2016UTO119)
In the absence of any contradicting evidence or other theories I would suggest that it is 95% probable that the first crossbar in the game of Rugby Football was the branch of a tree. I would challenge Peter to reply with a suggestion as to what the other 5% could be. I'll be happy to move my 95% to a lower number if his suggestion is plausible.
This is a challenge to Peter - Go back and read my book properly and tell me where I have made wrong judgements. In fact I open this challenge to the world, anyone and everyone who has an interest in the origin of a sport.
Was Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in 2003 less important that Jason Robinson's try?
Was Joel Stransky's drop goal in 1995 not important enough to win the game or should the teams in the 1995 RWC Final have continued playing until someone scored a try?
I leave Peter with one last parting thought:
Wales won the 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam by demolishing Ireland by 7 goals and 1 try (25 points) to 1 goal and 1 try (7 points). In this instance the Welsh goals make up 80% of their total score and Ireland's less that 30% of theirs. Wales won, Ireland lost. Its also worth noting here that the Welsh try came from tactical kicking and catching not running with the ball, that's 100% points from kicking the ball.
With this in mind I am at a loss to understand what part of my claim " it is still the goal and has always been the goal that is the main scoring method” that Peter does not understand?
My parting thought for the day is: The try is worth 5 points now and it does not matter if in 10 years time it is worth 100 points, you can't alter the past and my book doesn't just offer the possibility that Rugby Union originated from a kicking game, it proves conclusively that the game of Rugby Football that was played at Rugby School was a kicking game and not a running game and the distinctive feature of the game was kicking the ball over a crossbar not running with the ball. To return to my blog article, let's not forget they run more with the ball in cricket than they do in rugby - Howzat !
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