Squeaky Irish bulls and the origins of rugby
Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30
Didn't our team's performance in the Rugby World Cup make us all feel proud to be Irish despite the disappointment of last Sunday's exit to Argentina? There we are, right up there among the best in the world, showing far larger nations what can be achieved in international sport.
Now before you start getting all huffy about foreign games and so on, I must remind you that rugby is a genuine Irish game, despite what those perfidious English might claim.
The truth remains that in the distant mists of time, young Irish men played a game called Caid using a ball made from an inflated bull's scrotum. There must have been a lot of unhappy bulls in those days but the rugby ball still retains its original shape.
The youth of rural villages would turn out and meet at a halfway point whereupon the ball was tossed in the air and the only rule was that you couldn't pass it forward.
The winning team was the one that carried the ball into the opposing village.
When William Webb Ellis lived in Carlow where his father was garrisoned, he played Caid with the local boys and on being sent to Rugby school in England, introduced the practice of picking up the ball and running with it.
Everyone thought this was great fun and as the game developed it kept the name of the school and became popular worldwide.
So from bulls with squeaky voices to British schoolboys bashing the hell