Sport in the United Kingdom — страница 4

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pouring into a com­mon fund, or "pool" from which the winners are paid after the firm has taken its expenses and profit.) Those who do so receive every week from one of the pools firms a printed form; on this are listed the week's matches. Against each match, or against a number of them, the opti­mist puts down a I, a 2 or an x to show that he thinks the result of the match will be a home win (stake on fun’s team), an away win (stake on a team of opponent) or a draw. The form is then posted to the pools firm, with a postal order or cheque for the sum staked (or, as the firms say, "invested"). At the end of the week the results of the matches are announced on television and published in the news­papers and the "investor" can take out his copy of

his coupon and check his forecast. Rugby There is another game called rugby football, so called because it originated at Rugby, a well-known English public school. In this game the players may carry the ball. Rugby football (or 'rugger') is played with an egg-shaped ball, which may be carried and thrown (but not forward). The ball is passed from hand to hand rather than from foot to foot. If a player is carrying the ball he may be 'tackled' and made to fall down. Each team has fifteen players, who spend a lot of time lying in the mud or on top of each other and become very dirty, but do not need to wear such heavily protective clothing as players of American football. There are two forms of rugby - Rugby Union, which is strictly amateur, and Rugby League, played largely in the

north, which is a professional sport. Rugby Union has fifteen players, while Rugby League has thirteen, but the two games are basically the same. They are so similar that somebody who is good at one of them can quickly learn to become good at the other. The real difference between them is a matter of social history. Rugby union is the older of the two. In the nineteenth century it was enthusi­astically taken up by most of Britain's public schools. Rugby league split off from rugby union at the end of the century. There are two versions of this fast and aggressive ball game: rugby union and rugby league. Although it has now spread to many of the same places in the world where rugby union is played (rugby union is played at top level in the British Isles, France, Australia, South

Africa and New Zealand; also to a high level in North America, Argentina, Romania and some Pacific islands). Rugby can be considered the 'national sport' of Wales, New Zealand, Fiji, Western Samoa and Tonga, and of South African whites. Its traditional home is among the working class of the north of England, where it was a way for miners and factory workers to make a little bit of extra money from their sporting talents. Unlike rugby union, it has always been a profes­sional sport. Because of these social origins, rugby league in Britain is seen as a working class sport, while rugby union is mainly for the middle classes. Except in south Wales. There, rugby union is a sport for all classes, and more popular than football. In Wales, the phrase 'interna­tional day' means only one

thing — that the national rugby team are playing. Since 1970, some of the best Welsh players have been persuaded to 'change codes'. They are 'bought' by one of the big rugby league clubs, where they can make a lot of money. Whenever this happens it is seen as a national disaster among the Welsh. Rugby union has had some success in recent years in selling itself to a wider audience. As a result, just as football has become less exclusively working class in character, rugby union has become less exclusively middle class. In 1995- it finally abandoned amateurism. In fact, the amateur status of top rugby union players had already become meaningless. They didn't get paid a salary or fee for playing, but they received large 'expenses' as well as various publicity con­tracts and paid

speaking engagements. Cricket The game particularly associated with England is cricket. Judging by the numbers of people who play it and watch it (ê look at ‘Spectator attendance at major sports’), cricket is definitely not the national sport of Britain. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, interest in it is largely confined to the middle classes. Only in England and a small part of Wales is it played at top level. And even in England, where its enthusiasts come from all classes, the majority of the population do not understand its rules. Moreover, it is rare for the English national team to be the best in the world. Cricket is, therefore, the national English game in a symbolic sense. However, to some people cricket is more than just a symbol. The comparatively low