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Sports flag of Northern Ireland

Rugby playing doctor advises football helmet debate – The NY Times (Science Section, January 12, 2016) published an article about new efforts to reduce gridiron concussions via helmetless drills. The initiator of this revolutionary theory is Dr. Erik Swartz, chairman of the University of New Hampshire department of kinesiology.  He played rugby in college and witnessed the lack of head injuries from the sport’s different tackling techniques. The experiment at UNH called for half the football team to practice the season without helmets. Then, later when the group donned helmets, their tacking was electronically measured. providing data from sensors attached to the headgear. The results indicated that the test group used their head to tackle thirty-percent less than the helmet-wearing group, which continued to employ the more dangerous spear tackling method.

The English anthem? -  Attended a rugger test match where England played?  You heard “God Save The Queen,” which, officially, is the anthem of all of Great Britain. But if England played Wales or Scotland, you also heard national anthems of “Land of My Fathers” (Welsh) and “Flowers of Scotland." So, there is a move in England to designate an England-only song to be played before international rugby and soccer matches, leaving “God Save The Queen” as the country’s national anthem for the Olympics. Some familiar songs in consideration are “Jerusalem” (popularized in the movie Chariots of Fire) and “Land of Hope and Glory.”

What about Ireland rugby? - One of the incongruities of international rugby is that Ireland play with a team also consisting of Northern Ireland, a part of Great Britain. To welcome the northern neighbors, the squad flies the flag of the four provinces (Leinster, Munster, Connaught, and Ulster) and not the tri-color green, white, and orange Irish national flag. But, two anthems are sung, the Irish National Anthem, “Amhrán na bhFiann” (“The Soldiers' Song”) and also the all-inclusive “Ireland's Call.”  

But what happens when Northern Ireland (Ulster) play in the FIFA soccer World Cup qualifying as a separate nation? – Northern Ireland fly the Ulster Banner (see above), a flag that is not permitted on any government buildings, Before these sports matches, the tunes played are often both the Northern Ireland national anthem “London Derry Air” or “God Save the Queen.”

California begin 134th rugby season – Perennial powerhouse, UC Berkley, start the season in the annual Dennis Storer Classic in Los Angeles, a weekend tournament with three other notable California fifteens. Schedule: Saturday, the Bears meet UC San Diego at 9:30 a.m., UC Santa Cruz at noon, winding up the three-match day with UC Davis at 1:40 p.m. Cal will face UCLA at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the final game of the event.