In an odd tradition, nerds face off against … everyone else

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Michelle DerRoche, Contributing Writer

 

Spectators sit on the wall to witness the face-off between the King’s Scholars and the Oppidans in the Eton Wall Game. -photo courtesy of Eddie Keogh
Spectators sit on the wall to witness the face-off between the King’s Scholars and the Oppidans in the Eton Wall Game.
-photo courtesy of Eddie Keogh

With traditions like Charity Week and Groundhog that are so unique to the University of Dallas, it is not surprising to find that other schools have traditions just as crazy, if not crazier. At Eton College in England, for example, they have been playing the Eton Wall Game for the last 300 years.

This sport is a combination of football and rugby. It is played on a specific spot on campus called the “Furrow.” The Furrow is a patch of ground five meters (16.4 ft) by 110 meters (361 ft) and runs along the slightly curved brick wall.

Come St. Andrew’s Day on Nov. 30, Eton College hosts the biggest match of the year. The King’s Scholars, an elite academic group made up of those who have passed an exam and attained a certain scholarship, face the Oppidans, the rest of the school. In this particular match, the Oppidans climb over the wall before the game, while the Scholars march from the far end of the field. After their grand entrance, the match begins.

The purpose of the game is to move the ball to the opponent’s end of the Furrow to score. The plays begin with a “bully,” in which the players line up against the wall and each other, the ball is rolled into play and they seek to gain possession of it. Scoring consists of a one-point “shy,” wherein a teammate kicks the ball against the wall on the opponent’s side and another teammate then catches the ball. Then, for another nine points, the players throw a ball at a designated spot on either side of the playing area, which is a garden door for one team, and a tree for the other.

This tradition is a storied one and a joy to watch each and every year, as the less-academic battle the intellectuals. Perhaps UD could use such a tradition, on top of the many the school already has.

 

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