Rugby is a (pretty vicious!) game enjoyed the world over, although it did of course begin in the town of Rugby. Using an oval ball that is passed by hand, years ago people were killed playing the game, although it’s a lot safer these days. England boasts one of the best teams in the world, being the only one north of the Equator to win a Rugby World Cup (there is also a women’s rugby team, if you are feeling tough!) Over 800 million people play rugby worldwide (we all know the Haka dance by the All-Blacks). So small sustainable changes add up!
Mud, Sweat and Beers is the story of how rugby changed one man’s life. Steven was the last person anyone expected to see on the rugby field (short, bespectacled and ‘unsporty’. But as a gentleman of a certain age when strange life choices are made, he chose to pick up a rugby ball, and run with it. And found along with the beer-related, post-match mayhem – a good honest team sport and new friends at the rugby club.
Choose a rugby ball made from natural plant-based materials like jute or rubber (leather balls are made mostly in counties with poor or no animal welfare laws). Waboba Rewild Rugby Ball is made from jute and natural rubber. Perfect for backyard games or playing on sand or grass, salt water and sunshine may cause natural fading (avoid on concrete or hard surfaces, which will damage the natural fibres). Sold in recycled packaging, this ball is suitable for age 8 and over. Bala make some latex and synthetic rugby balls (including mini-versions for children) this links to leather-free options, but note they also make leather rugby balls, so avoid).
- Finisterre Rugby Shirt and Invisible Friend both make organic cotton rugby scrum t-shirts, which are better for the planet, wildlife and the farmers that grow the cotton. Choosing natural fibres also means that microplastics don’t escape from the washing machine, when you launder theme.
- Many rugby boots are made from K-Leather (this involves shooting kangaroos, then clubbing or decapitating the joeys in the pouch – or if they escape, they starve or get eaten). Switch to vegan rugby boots to help kangaroos.
- Switch to organic lawn care for your rugby pitch, the health of the workers and players, and spectators. Lawn chemicals can emit fumes for years afterwards, and result in a higher rate of bladder cancer, even for neighbouring areas. Lawns also are home to millions of wildlife like bees, which benefit from organic plants.
If you thought that vegans were skinny weedy people you could knock over with a feather, meet Green Gazelles (England’s first rugby club). Not only do they live on plant foods, but all their kit and boots are animal-friendly too. Vegan rugby players include Ireland’s Anthony Mullally and Johanna Jahnke.