Monday 5 October 2015

2015 - A Game For Reconciliation

                      A GAME FOR RECONCILIATION

                                       Eduardo C. Gerding

'Dialogue, diplomacy and respect for the dignity of all must be the key to resolving national and international conflicts'

Pope Francis

Historical background 13

In December 1823, in the town of Rugby, England, a student named William Webb Ellis disobeying existing rules football took the ball with his hands and ran to the opposite end of the field becoming a goal. That same month James Monroe outlined the doctrine that bears his name. In our country in that same year the Battle of El Puesto took place between strongman Juan Facundo Quiroga and general Nicolas Dávila.

Rugby rules were written on August 28, 1845 by three British students William Delafield Arnold, W.W. Shirley and Frederick Hutchins. 

These rules were amended in 1847 in Eaton and in 1848 in Cambridge stressing more skill than the force imposed by the game. The first rugby federation was founded on January 26, 1871 in Pall Mall London restaurant. That very same day in Argentina Julio A. Roca defeated Lopez Jordan of Entre Ríos in the Battle of Ñaembé. 

The first game of rugby in Argentina was played in 1873. This sport was introduced in Argentina by British immigrants. 

The first game of the Four Nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) was held in 1883. 

In 1899, three clubs of Buenos Aires and one of Rosario (AC Belgrano, Buenos Aires and Rosario Lomas Athletic) came together to form the River Plate Rugby Football Union (now the Union Argentina de Rugby). 

On March 24, 1934, in Hannover, at the request of France the FIRA (Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur) was founded.

In 1965, the Argentine rugby national team toured Rhodesia and South Africa winning 11 of the 16 games played and in June 19 th achieved a historic victory over the Springboks by 11-6 at Ellis Park stadium. During that tour, the South African press baptized the team as Pumas, as the reporter of the weekly The Weekly Farmers noticed a printed jaguar in the shield of the UAR, and the Argentine shirts. 
On May 22, 1987 Rugby World Cup named Webb Ellis Cup was created. Since 1991 the song played for these championships (which was part of the original soundtrack of the film Invictus) is World in Union.

Characteristics of rugby

In April 2010, 116 national unions were recognized by the International Rugby Board.

On Saturday August 8, 2015, on South African soil, the Pumas, as visitors, won an historic victory against the South African Springboks by 37-25, in the city of Durban, in the Kings Park Stadium as part of the Rugby Championship. This was an elite competition involving the four rugby powers of the southern hemisphere: New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and Australia. This victory marked the first official triumph of the Pumas against the greatest South African rugby selection.

The motivations that lead a person to practice rugby have been thoroughly studied and published. Notwithstanding, they are beyond the scope of this article. 7

A rugby team has 15 players divided into 8 Forwards "defenders" (stout) have a rather resistance training / strength, and 3/4 ("front") (more feeble light and agile) who have a rather dedicated training agility / speed,

Rugby is a contact sport, and injuries are frequently observed: shoulder tackle (dislocations and broken collarbone), head trauma, nasal and malar fractures, knee injuries (ligament and meniscus), dislocations and fractures of the elbow, hand, ankle, back injuries (scrum), rib injuries and cuts. Severe or life threatening injuries are rare. There are First Aid guidelines for the court. 3,10,14

There have been some articles published on the social aspects of rugby in Argentina .2

In 2012, the Pumas trained rugby to children from four slums and villages of the city. The meetings were organized by the Ministry of Habitat and Inclusion of the city government, as part of its inclusive sport program, with the aim of using rugby and its values ​​as a tool for social inclusion. 8

Likewise in Tucuman, the Grupo Rugby was created in order to provide a tool to poor children who lacked the possibility of performing a different activity and instill the values ​​of sport. 11

Rugby Union de Cuyo also participated in the Children´s Day by collecting new and used toys in good condition for underprivileged children. 9

From its origins this game always revealed oppositions: strength against skill; fair play against unfair play, etc. An old British saying goes that "soccer is a gentleman's game played by villains and rugby is a game of villains played by gentlemen".

Rugby shows a characteristic respect for the rules which must be obeyed both by players and the public. The decisions of the referee rarely are discussed. In addition, it encourages sociability between teammates and opponents and a cordial meeting after games called third time, along with the referees, coaches and the public. This term has been extended to the media where this sport is analyzed. (Wikipedia)

Rugby provides a platform for development, reconciliation and peace. 5

Regardless of the outcome, it is an opportunity to remember that sport is more than a game. It can produce real social changes that benefit the people. As a tool for social change, the sport is not unique to mega international events since it is used daily in local communities to build bridges and positively affect social change. 5

Regarding the game between Argentine and British war veterans, Dr David Jackson who left the British Army to become a specialist in post-traumatic stress (which he suffered), said: : “The beauty of rugby lies in what comes after: we talked, shared a few beers and laughed,” Doctor David Jackson, who left the army in order to become a post-traumatic stress disorder specialist (from which he suffered), said. 1

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said, “Sport is a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and development,” 4

The case of South Africa

The greatest impact of the 1995 Rugby World Cup was not the victory of the rugby team, but the inclusive atmosphere it helped to create. It was not the sport that helped to achieve social change, but the enabling environment, which it produced. Nelson Mandela, the South African Rugby captain Francois Pineaar and South Africans of all backgrounds used this as an opportunity to celebrate what they had in common rather than their differences. It also helped to bring together groups who ordinarily would not interact together. The fact that South Africa won the tournament, made it a story fit for Hollywood, but the real success can be measured by the impact it had on South Africans. 5


Invictus is a true sports drama film of 2009, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The story is based on the book by John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. The film is about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid apartheid system. Freeman and Damon play, respectively, South African President Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) and Francois Pienaar (n. 1967), the captain of the Springboks.

Rugby without borders (RSF)

Rugby Without Borders established in 2009 is an organization dedicated to promoting social values ​​to build peace through actions of awareness, training, and assembly of high-impact events taking rugby its human essence.

RSF was in Malvinas four times between 2009 and 2012 . They played in an old field close to Puerto Argentino where several PVC pipes were used to mark the court. On the occasion of the Master of Emotions, Penguin News director John Folley reflected and considered whether the island should not receive and bless this foundation. 12, 15
War Veteran Alejandro Diego said:

"In the cemetery of Darwin I had a heavenly meeting" with my 649 comrades buried there. I hugged them all against the peat. There they appeared, all of them whom I buried and never met. They were not bad, they were feeling good. They told me that the land belong to everyone. Or when we go to the Colosseum we feel bad because its Italian and not Argentine? They belong to all. As our obelisk also belongs to everyone. Is it necessary to kill to be able to touch and enjoy it? They said that they died in order that there be no more wars and that they hope their message would be spread. They died with courage and fulfilled their duty. Our duty is that that there be no more deaths from now on. 

RSF is finishing a documentary called The other way to the Islands; revealing the devastating consequences that the 1982 conflict brought to Argentine and British.


Argentine and British War Veterns on September 21st, -Evan Porter-Upworthy-Sept 23,2015.


Argentine war veteran Alejandro Diego and his son the day of the match
(Kindly submitted by Alejandro Diego)

The game

The event took place at Esher Rugby Footbal Club and was attended by Argentine war veterans and British with their families. The ball was blessed by Pope Francis. 1

(Kindly submitted by Alejandro Diego)

The Malvinas War veterans wore special identification armbands The game was to two 20 min since many players were older than 50 . 6

The official clothing of Rugby Encounter for Peace was compiled by Lions XV- Play Patagonia, Cardon and CAP also sponsored the event. 12,15

Diego Alejandro said:

“The event’s only goal is to send a message of peace. There’s no political intent here, despite some people’s claim that there is. Rugby is just a means: what we’re trying to do here is change people’s attitudes,” 1

Rugby, traditionally known for the sense of chivalry that accompanies the otherwise brutal sport, couldn’t have been a better pick to ease Argentine/UK tensions . 1

The blue team beat the reds 20 to 5, but the score obviously didn’t matter because everyone won in our hearts. 1

From UK:

Dave Beattie 45 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Pete Jenkins 45 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Steven Oytch 45 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Niger However 45 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Chris Scrivener 45 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Mark Blackstone 45 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Al Wilkins 42 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Hurry While Commando Helicopter Force Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Chris Cole Special Boat Service(SBS), Royal Navy
Gary Clifton Original Naval Party 8901 Falklands Detachment, Royal Navy
Mick Plater 42 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy
Dave Jackson 3rd Battalion (3 PARA), British Army
Matt Griffiths 3rd Battalion (3 PARA), British Army (Not veteran)
Derek Edge 3rd Battalion (3 PARA), British Army
Ben Lankan 43 Commando Royal Marines, Royal Navy (Not veteran)
David Wheen 42 Commando Royal Marines, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)
 From Argentina:

Alejandro Acosta: Compañía de Comando de la 10ma Brigada de Infantería Mecanizada. He was in Port Stanley, Moody Brook, and then the Command House.
Dardo García: Regimiento de Infantería Mecanizada 7, Compañía Comando. He was in Moody Brook y and then Mount Longdon
Fabián Abraham: 2da Escuadrilla de Apoyo Logístico Móvil. He was at the Airport, and then near Pembroke Lighthouse.
Ricardo Pérez: Port Stanley pier, airport and Moody Brook.
Héctor Berro: Port Stanley pier, and participated in the mining of Port Stanley entrance.
Horacio Gatas: Regimiento 7, Compañía A, Defensa 1ra línea de combate, Mount Longdon
Roberto Herrscher: Crew of the “Penélope” sailing over Strait of San Carlos, Fox Bay and Port Stanley.
Alejandro Diego: Port Stanley pier initially. Then part of the crew of ARA “Bahia Buen Suceso” ship, sailing from Port Stanley to Darwin, Strait of San Carlos, Howard and Fox Bay, where two Harriers attacked the ship, and then landed on Fox Bay, where he received several navy bombs, and air attacks.
Alejandro Crudo: Positions at the eastern part of Port Stanley
Ramón Castillo: Mount Harriet, western side

Former rugby player Christian Martin(left) prepares for the scrum between Argentine and British war veterans which took place in Esher Rugby Club (Surrey)on September 21st, 2015.

The Citizen-http://citizen.co.za/afp_feed_article/rugby-game-unites-former-falklands-enemies/


“It was an unnecessary war,” Horacio Gatas, an Argentine veteran, told AFP ahead of the game, echoing the views of many of the former combatants. 6

"I like the opportunity of meeting people 33 years later who fought against me, who followed orders like me. I want to shake their hand," he said.

Doctor David Jackson, who left the army in order to become a post-traumatic stress disorder specialist (from which he suffered), said. 1

“I realized many years ago that all of us who fought that war were someone’s son or husband. We were pawns in a political game,” he added.

Jackson said that the veterans of any war are united by their shared experience of conflict.

"We have a different sense of humour, our work ethic is different and that's what binds us together, our differences as civilians," he said.

“My participation in the war was a part of my service in the army. It’s similar to rugby. There are no hard feelings after the final whistle. Both sides lost friends and loved ones in the war,” finished British Veteran Bob Ewen . 1

Russell Craig, a 56-year-old veteran, said: “We were victims of circumstance. Politicians failed and we had to go an try to fix what politicians did wrong.“Reconciliation is important, it’s very good, this is an emotional moment,” he said. 6

Jorge Murias, an Argentine priest who came to watch the game, said: “What’s important for people is coming together, working for peace, for justice, for solidarity and fraternity, for everyone and forever.”
Argentine war veteran Alejandro Diego said: I went to Malvinas to fight, to kill and was a war veteran until 2012 when I decided to travel back to the Malvinas with the Foundation and there I changed completely. Until then felt that my failure was not having killed, that I had not met my goal . In Malvinas I healed and I appreciated every day not having killed anyone and ended it´s necessary a change of mentality so that these things won´t happen again . 12,15

I personally wish that this event would come on top of all international newspapers but I remembered a statement made in 1935 by the American presenter Phil Donahue: To a journalist, the good news is often not news at all.


War Veteran Alejandro Diego and Rodrigo Fuhr (Rugby without borders)

  1. Bio, Demian-Tackling peace head on: Malvinas war veterans unite on the rugby field-The Bubble-http://www.bubblear.com/tackling-peace-head-on-malvinas-war-veterans-unite-on-the-rugby-field/
  2. Branz, Juan Bautista-El rugby es una escuela de vida-Razón y Palabra http://www.razonypalabra.org.mx/N/N90/Monotematico/10_Bautista_M90.pdf
  3. El rugby ¿es un deporte de riesgo?   http://rugbydeportederiesgo.blogspot.com.ar/p/lesiones-del-rugby.html
  4. Gilley,Jeremy-Building peace one day at a time through sport-Peace One Day Movement. http://www.sportanddev.org/en/?13071/1/Building-peace-one-day-at-a-time-through-sport
  5. Idowu, Daniel-Nelson Mandela, the rugby World Cup and social change-Sportand dev.org.http://www.sportanddev.org/en/newsnviews/news/?3634/Nelson-Mandela-the-Rugby-World-Cup-and-social-change
  6. Luna, Alfons -Rugby game unites former Falkland enemies. The Citizenhttp://citizen.co.za/afp_feed_article/rugby-game-unites-former-falklands-enemies/
  7. Menescardi Royuela, Cristina A- El rugby: los motivos de práctica según sus jugadores y jugadoras- Universidad de Valencia-IX Congreso Internacional sobre la Enseñanza de la Educación Física y el Deporte Escolar.  http://altorendimiento.com/el-rugby-los-motivos-de-practica-segun-sus-jugadores-y-jugadoras/
  8. Noticias Urbanas-Los Pumas enseñan rugby a niños carenciados. http://www.noticiasurbanas.com.ar/noticias/06dc214cf463a4c5c42da85771d2212e/
  9. Rugby de CPBM-Mes del Niño- https://rugbycpbm.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/mes-del-nino/
  10. Rugby Ready: A collectible responsibility- http://www.irbrugbyready.com/index.php?section=69
  11. Rugby Tucumano-Entrenando Solidaridad- http://rugbytucumano.com.ar/?p=8727
  12. Rugby unites former Falkland enemies.Sport24 http://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/WorldCup/Rugby-unites-former-Falklands-enemies-20150921
  13. Rugby-Wikipedia  https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby
  14. Ryan, Mariano-Las serias lesiones, el karma del mundial de rugby-La Nación 1 de Octubre 2015. http://www.clarin.com/deportes/rugby/Rugby-Los_Pumas-Mundial_de_Inglaterra_2015_0_1441056033.html
  15. Veteranos de guerra argentinos y británicos unidos en un encuentro de rugby por la paz- http://www.rugbysinfronteras.org/?p=1096