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Among the many famous people who played rugby in their lifetime, one story stands out as having global historic political impact; the rugby life and times of Ernesto Guevara. The Argentinean med student left behind the bourgeois life in Buenos Aires - including playing rugby - for a personal journey that would eventually create "Che" Guevara, the left-wing Marxist and Latin American revolutionary legend.
Guevara came from an established, Anglicized middle class family in Buenos Aires, members of the San Isidro RFC. Young Guevara suffered asthma and was sent to high school in Cordoba, whose mountain air was better for his health. Here he played scrumhalf for the school, oddly, always wearing a scrumcap. The sport's stop and start motion allowed him frequent sideline breaks to take a squirt from a breath inhaler.
After graduation, he returned to Buenos Aires to start medical training. The rugby experience remained important, and he continued to play. He founded a rugby magazine named "Tackle" to write about the sport. In the magazine, he complained about the conservative aspect of the game, a de facto criticism of the Peron government. The state police closed down the magazine after four-months.
At this juncture, friends advised him to flee and that began his motorcycle travels throughout South America, where observing poverty and hunger further radicalized his left-leaning sentiments.
Guevara wrote, "I love rugby. Even if it kills me one day, I am happy to play it."
Is it possible that when he left on that fateful motorcycle journey, he packed his boots and scrumcap on the odd chance he could find a pickup game along the route?