One of the biggest sports news items of the last week was a story – or sport – you may have never heard of.
Before a crowd of almost 8,000 people at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a team with the unlikely name of LA Giltinis won the Major League Rugby league title, defeating Rugby ATL (that stands for Atlanta) 31-17.
If you’re not familiar with rugby, it’s the game from which American football is descended. It resembles “our” football in many ways, with passing, tackling, open field running and kicking. But it’s also more fast moving and – although it’s very physical – has many fewer problems with injuries, especially concussions.
It might seem counterintuitive, but since rugby players don’t wear helmets or pads, they get hurt a lot less than what you see in college and pro football games here. Several reasons stand out. First, there’s no forward passing (all passes must be lateral or backwards) so the game is a lot more fluid. There’s no blocking, so you don’t have those collisions between masses of huge linemen. Finally, without a thick hard plastic helmet, you’re not going to use your skull as a battering ram.
There are a lot of scrapes and bruises in rugby, but few concussions or broken bones. The relative safety of the sport makes it an attractive alternative to the football we play here. At the very least, it has some lessons to teach the NFL and the NCAA about how our gridiron game might evolve to become less dangerous.
Angels, Dodgers stuck in low gear
Despite some roster changes our two MLB teams are having trouble gaining ground on the teams they need to. The Dodgers and Angels have each gone 5-5 over their past 10 games.
The Dodgers and Angels, on the other hand, each have a chance coming up to make some progress this week. The Halos will be in Arlington to play four games (Monday through Thursday) against the Texas Rangers, the worst team in the American League West.
Starting on Tuesday, the Blue Crew gets to host three games against an old enemy, the Houston Astros, who happen to be the best team in the American League West.
And when that’s done with, the two “Los Angeles” teams will meet at Dodger Stadium Friday through Sunday. If the Anaheimers hope to gain ground with some wins in Chavez Ravine, they’ll have to bend a trend. The Dodgers have won six in a row in that increasingly lop-sided Freeway Series.
Pete Zarustica writes “Sports Monday.”