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Body Language Rugby

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Body Language Rugby can be played by any number of players from two upwards, although four players divided into two teams of two is probably the optimum number. (If you have an odd number of people, then it's often handy if one person acts as referee / line judge).

Body Language Rugby is best played in semi-formal occasions, in which people are muting their natural responses to avoid causing offence. This because we want an environment where you can manipulate people by making them feel merely uncomfortable - as opposed to plain-damn scaring the shit out of them.

Suitable venues include wedding receptions, formal cocktail parties, and the sort of wine and cheese gatherings I believe you get on the first evening of business conventions. (I wouldn't know about the latter since I'm only a humble programmer, and thus don't get invited to such events).

You could try playing Body Language Rugby in a less formal location, such as a bar or club, but if do you try that then on your head be it; don't come crying to me if you find yourself sitting in Casualty with a broken pint glass embedded in what you used to call your face.

But I'm American!

Body Language Rugby works equally well if described in the language of Gridiron (American) Football. Just replace "Rugby" with "Football", "try" with "touchdown", "in goal area" with "endzone", and "goal-line" with whatever the hell you guys call the line that separates the end zone from the pitch proper.

Oh, and perhaps you should wear knee-pads and cycle helmets in case you slip over and hurt yourself.

The Arena

The best type of arena is a reasonably large rectangular room, slightly longer than it is wide, with any doors being on the longer sides. The room should be reasonably free of obstructions such as tables and chairs. (If there are tables and chairs, then it's best if they are at the sides of the room).

The Pitch

The pitch consists of the floor area of the room. At each end of the room, you need to designate a line which will be the goal-line. This could be an actual physical marking, such as where the carpet stops and wooden flooring begins, or a notional line, such as the line connecting a door on one wall to the window on another.

The area beyond each goal line is called the in-goal area. The pitch should look like this:

|   in-goal area   |
|                  |
|                  |
|   playing area   |
|                  |
|                  |
|   in-goal area   |

Each team takes one end of the room, defending the goal-line behind them, and attacking the goal-line in front.

Ideally, there should be no doors in either of the in-game areas. However, what is most important is that both in-game areas are equal - either they both have no doors, or they both have doors. If they are unequal, then it is vital that the game is played in two halves, with the teams swapping ends after each half.

The Rules

The rules are very simple.

Play starts with each team confined to their half of the pitch.

At the start of play, the two captains select one person (not a player, just a party guest or whatever), who is standing in the central area of the room, to be "the Ball". If there is a referee then he can select the Ball.

The purpose of the game is to force the Ball (that's the party guest for those who are finding this sociopathic language hard to keep up with) across your opponent's goal-line whilst simultaneously preventing him from forcing the Ball across your goal-line, all without making any physical contact whatsoever with the Ball.

If you drive the Ball across the goal-line (if any part of the Ball's body crosses the line then this qualifies) you have achieved a try & conversion, and thus score seven points.

If you make any physical contact on the Ball - even something as innocuous as touching his arm - then a penalty worth an automatic three points is awarded to your opponent.

After any points are scored, all players must return to their own half, following which a new Ball is chosen.



The basic tactic in Body Language Rugby is the continuous invasion of the Ball's personal space in order to drive/herd him away from you, and towards the goal-line. This will typically be disguised by engaging him in an over-familiar, and over-friendly, conversation.

You get in close. He takes a step backward. You step forward to remain just that bit too close. He takes another step backward. And so on. The knack is to do it in such a way that it doesn't feel forced or contrived; he should assume that you're just one of those annoying sods who lack social empathy and just can't help but invade your space.


One controversial technique involves the creative use of the buffet table, in particular the pre-game consumption of garlic and raw-onions, thus granting the player a breath weapon that can vastly enhance ball driving and control skills.

General Advice

A game of Body Language Rugby is best conducted covertly. In particular, it's advisable to not celebrate when points have been scored.

Have fun!

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