I was doing the crossword this morning, and one of the clues referenced rugby. I used to play a lot of rugby, in the position of hooker (snicker now). Anyway it made me think of a funny thing that happened one game.
The way to get the ball back in bounds when it goes out of bounds (or “into touch” in rugby parlance) during play, is called a “line-out.” It works by a number of players on each team lining up in parallel lines perpendicular to the side-line (“touch line”), about a metre apart from each other. The players are generally members of the scrum (as opposed to “backs,” who are too namby-pamby for such physicality). Then the team that DIDN’T put the ball into touch, must throw the ball between the two lines, and the players all try and jump up and get it. Think of it as an organized basketball throw-in. Educational photo attached:
Out of this photo is the person who actually threw in the ball. That role is usually performed by the hooker. One basic strategy is to tell the members of your team which one you will be throwing it to. Kind of like in American football, where the quarterback says in the huddle which receiver he will try and throw to. The trouble is, if I (the thrower-in) just yell out, “It’s coming to you, Andrew!” then the player of the opposing team standing next to Andrew will have an equal knowledge that it’s coming his way. (Did I mention that rugby laws, yes “laws,” say that the ball MUST be thrown straight down the middle – equidistant between both lines?)
S0, all teams have some secret code that allows the hooker to tell his line which member it is going to. One team I was on had the following code: if I yelled out a city in Canada, it was going to our number 2 jumper; if the city was in USA, it was going to number 4, and if it was in the UK, it was going to number 6. So just before throwing the ball in, I would yell some nonsense like FIFTEEN! BLUE! ALBUQUERQUE! PENELOPE! A-67! In this case, the number 4 jumper would know it was coming to him, and all the other stuff would prevent the other team from figuring out our system.
This worked well for a while, until the following scenario occurred. We were all lined up and I yelled KEYHOLE! FORTY-EIGHT! GLASGOW! NINETEEN! GREEN! Then, a split second later, just as was about to throw the ball, one of my team members yelled back, “WHERE THE F**K IS GLASGOW?”