Leather Balls

While biking in the Park last month, I came upon a rugby game in progress. I stopped to watch it and to take some pictures. I got to talking with one of the players and he explained that they were the Ramblers, one of the oldest clubs in the USA. I never got a very good understanding of how the game is played. It looked to me to be a lot like American football, except without the helmets and pads. The Rambler player said that it was more like soccer, than football, with the important exception that players can use their hands. Most plays seemed to end in a scrum, or a pile of bodies. Injuries were frequent. I overheard another pair of players bemoaning the habit of some players of punching opposing team players in the face, while lying at the bottom of these piles.

I checked on the web and found the Rambler website. In 1932 Edmond St. John Martin Hoogewerf (I love this name) arrived in Saint Louis from Great Britain. A year later, in 1933, he and Harry Langenberg had founded the Saint Louis Rambler Rugby Club. The Ramblers are Saint Louis’ oldest and the nation’s second oldest active men’s rugby club. Only the New York Rugby Club can claim to have a longer run.

Langenberg Field, located behind the Dwight Davis tennis courts, in Forest Park, was named in honor of Harry Langenberg and his Saint Louis Ramblers. The Ramblers had played on this field for years, but recent balloon festivals have forced them to move to the old golf driving range, located behind the park visitor’s center. This I was told by the Rambler player. I’m guessing that the goal posts are thought to make for too dangerous of a landing obstacle, but this year, a number of balloons landed safely on the driving range, with its goal posts. So, I don’t know what the real story is.