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Photo courtesy NY Times

For some rugby players there is the memory of the pre-game ritual of scouring the pitch for glass and other metallic objects. New Yorkers ruggers will remember the slanted field at Randall’s Island that also featured two, manhole covers that were usually covered in Astroturf but not always. 

But these protective measures do not compare with the plight of the men and women rugby players of Laos who can only play on three pitches in the entire county that are certified to be bomb free. The nation still retains piles and piles of US unexploded ordinance from the Viet Nam War where the then kingdom of Laos was bombed and bombed some more.

The investigators of the Laos pitches are not rugby players but the bomb removal squad.

The Laos rugby update appeared in a six-column spread inside the Sports section of the NY Times. The article indicated that this South Asian country has 4,000 players, up from 300 five-years ago. Of greater interest, is the sport has been adopted by women, so much so, that it is considered a female-focused sport.

The Lao Rugby Federation is financed by the Children Fund Australia, a charity that reduces poverty in youth globally.

In games outside the country, the Laos Women are known for their fierce tackling and competitive spirit.

(Mystery writer, Colin Cotterill, has written wry novels featuing Dr. Siri Paiboun, the nation of Laos's only coroner [1970s} in a 14-book series.)