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1EVOLUTION OF RUGGER ? , -…

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1EVOLUTION OF RUGGER ? [ I. f I Gradual and Silent !t Changes. HOW SCOTLAND FIRST PLAYED I FOUR THREES. I 1 i [By rOIWARD."] ? —— comparison oetween past and 'present I | discloses many changes, but in Rugby I s football their evolution has been so 1 gradual, so silent as to be almost imper- 4 ceptible. On international days, more í than any other, men who have been interested in the game from boyhood ? look wistfully back through the vista of years that are gone, and when, by some < chance, two or three of them gather to- j gether, they talk of other and, perhaps, happier days. These little talks are I o?t-times tinged with sadness. Faces 1 that were once familiar are missing, and 1 many of the "boys of the old brigade" ¡ 't have dropped out of the ranks. With I the incoming of a new generation there seems to bo created a new spirit, and the old 'uns feel that they are breathing a new atmosphere, which is not half so agreeable as the old. But their innate i geniality triumphs o'er all the changes, and once they are settled down in cosiness and comfort, they brush aside soft sen- timentalism, and lifting their glasses, fight their battles over again. To the veterans these little convivial gatherings on the eve of an international match are second only in importance and interest to the ma?ch itself. To them this annual I chat is quite a sacred institution, hal- I iowed by the pleasant memories of the stirring days of buoyant youth. A ver- batim report of some of these chats would be an epitomised history, in a bright and reada-ble form, of the rise and develop- ment of Rugby football in this country. And it is a wonderful story when you come to think of it. Twenty-five years ago Rugby fooobadl in Wales was, more or less, in its swaddling clothes, and com- paratively few people cared whether it would grow ou of its infancy or die young. ,SpectatorT, could be counted in dozens where they can be counted to-day in thou- sands. Clubs that are disappointed to- day with £ 100 "gates" were thankful at that time if they took a hundred shillings. They wouldn't have known what to do with so much wealth. There was no talk of professionalism. Men played the game from sheer, pure love of it. But things have changed, and it is irjrfcoesible to put back the hands of the clock and revert to 1 the customs and methods of the early [ days. They are gone for ever. We must, rather, look to the future, and try to shape our destinies on lines that will run on parallel lines with modern requare- ) ments and be in keeping with the senti- ) ment of the age. s Even as late as 1892, which was the year in which Scotland won her last I match in Wales, the game was not the attraction it is to-day by half, and a crowd of ten or fifteen thousand, people alarmed some good folk so much that the degeneracy of our poor little nation was maue the text of many a sermon. 'I hey were preacners, but not prophets, for instead of degenerating tile race has deve- loped on mosc healthy lines, and nothing has conduced more to a growing re^peco tor Welshmen all the world over taaii their prowess on the too. do all field..New Zeaiaiiders, Africans, and Austra- lians will, t am sure, agree with that pro- position. 1 have purposely referred to this match because it was the last game in whicn the Scotsmen played nine for- wards against our eight, and three three- quarters against our lour; but, although viocory went to the boots by a goal and a try to a try, they became converts to the lour three-quarter game, and that is, surely, one or the most interesting episodes in Rugby football history. tlall- crott was at run-hack, rbat day, and in the third- line were Arthur Gould, Con- way Rees, T. W. Pearson, and -Vi Cutcheon. The half-badcs were Evan and David Jamea. Ana wnat a game tne famous brothers played that day! ihey made rings rouna Urr and Ander- son, but, not iViLhstanding their brilliant piay, the attack ot the \V eish three- quarters was not good enough to pierce tne iS cattish defence mClre than once. 1 he great itSosweli was among the Cale- donian forwards that day, and scored alle of the two tries for his side, fcio menacing was the W e.b. back play at times that the Scotsmen cast aside -Lileir cast-iron con- servatism by bringing a forward out of the pack and playing him as a tourth three-quarter. Thus was introduced the thin end of the wedge of the four three- quarter system into ocottish Rughy foot- I ball, and this is a little historical faer, which was never known to some people and has been forgotten by many. it was a practical recognition by 6cotlaild of the greater effectiveness of the four three- quarter game. The conversion took a long time, but the canny beat has never gone back on it. Though the four three-quarter game has been adhered to by fecotland for so many years, there, are still a good many veteran Ruggerites ayont the Tweed whose faith in the old lormait-lon remains unshaken to this day, and if they had their own way they would unhesitatingly revert to it. It was only half-a-dozen years ago I heard a group of representa- tive supporters of the game in Scotland strongly advocating going back to the old game. Wha-t must these old campaigners have though when they saw Wales playing seven forwards and eight hacks at lnverleith two years ago, when Reggie G-ibbs made that last desperate effort to save his side from defeat. It would be 'extremely interest- ing to watqh the experiment of Scotland playing nine forwards and six backs against the eight forwards and seven backs of Wales once again. Wales, I am sure, would have no objection to it, even on the ground of its being reactionary. With our four three-quarter system in its present state of perfection the difficulty of opposing teams is to stop our backs scoring even with an equal number mark- ing them. The system inaugurated and perfected by Wales was adopted by the sister nations, not so much from choice as from obligation.

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