Beards of War – Part 1

beardJoin resident BTL Multi-Moniker Maestro Crashball on his two-part fearless foray into facial fungus as a rugby fear-inducer

Rugby; sport or war without the weapons? Most fans lean toward the latter.

Indeed, the language of war has soaked into the rugby lexicon – trenches, yards gained, battles, carnage, rumbling forward, etc –

"Into the Valley of Death,Strode Fo-farr-nar!"

“Into the Valley of Death,
Strode Fo-farr-nar!”

and is used by some commentators week in and week out.

But the link between the two goes back further than one would imagine and, unsurprisingly, like many warrior cultures in the past, rugby players have long prized facial hair as a declaration of manliness, a weapon of intimidation and a badge of ruggedness.

Rugby, facial hair and war have a long and glorious history indeed. In rugby’s early days most national teams were composed of many men of a military background. For example, this rare group photo shows British Army officers who represented England at rugger in 1899 before shipping out to the Second Boer War.

"I say, Percival, those Afrikaan chappies can't be that tough, what?"

“I say, Percival, those Afrikaan chappies can’t be that tough, what?”

In the context of modern rugby, facial hair is mainly seen as the provenance of the forwards, appropriate as forward packs are very much the spiritual successors of most nation’s ancestral warriors.

To the untutored eye many just look like groups of big fat blokes with random beards scattered among them looking, for all intents and purposes, like a polyester-clad Hell’s Angels gang.

But, with ten seconds or so of painstaking analysis, a clear pattern emerges.

The Front Row

If the forwards are the spiritual successors of warrior cultures then the front row, and the props in particular, are the vanguard of that. Tough, fearless, willing to step into harm’s way and bow to no man – unless a deliberate scrum collapse is needed – these men command respect.  mattdunning

Well, most of them anyway.

Many choose to cultivate beards to enhance that respect, leading to the emergence of The Prop-er Beard©.

As befits their rank as most vital man on the team, tightheads are given the honour of Prima Hirsuita or First Beard.


“Feck! This perm’s buggered if it rains!”

In many cases looseheads remain clean-shaven in deference.

The best of tightheads are often living avatars of their nation’s military past. The greatest of tightheads can even take the field with perms and escape taunts about their sexuality.

In another link between rugby and war, it is a little known fact crosspathsthat battle and scrums are the only two occasions when the Third Law Of Beardly Conduct is waived.

The First Law, in case you’re wondering, states that another man’s beard may only be admired with the eyes, not the hands. There is no Second Law.

Hookers tend to remain clean-shaven due to the 1978 Treaty of Canterbury whereby hookers across the world agreed to remain clean-shaven where possible to spare the rest of us endless terrible jokes about “hairy hookers” and “bearded ladies”. For that we owe them eternal thanks.

The Second Row

Due to the nature of head placement during scrums, most locks choose not to grow full beards as it is considered disrespectful to the beard to shove it up a prop’s arse.

A small sub-set of bearded locks prefer the full-on intimidation factor and go for the psychopath combo of shaved head and very long beard. So rare is this combo that the mere sight of it can inspire dread. Such as the time the alleged #1 tough-guy scrum-half in the world wet his pants when he met one.

A proud moment for beards everywhere.

But the prevailing trend among locks is for stubble, both designer and scruffy.

“I look so like a Cuban gangster that Michael Bay has signed me as the villain for the next three Bad Boys films.”

“I look so like a Cuban gangster that Michael Bay has signed me as the villain for the next three Bad Boys films.”

Over the course of his career Victor Matfield became so associated with this look that it has opened up a life beyond rugby.

The Back Row

Largely freed from the travails of the worst of the scrum, the back rows, and flankers in particular, are free to run riot.

Like tribute bands with more enthusiasm than talent, what they can come up with can often be gloriously daft and some deserve great credit for the gusto with which they throw themselves into it.

The most common of these eye-catching back-row styles is known as The Friendly Lumberjack in honour of Canadian players – like Adam Kleeburger – who have endeavoured to make it their own and push it to strange new places.

“In Canada this is considered stubble.”

“In Canada, we call this stubble.”

In Part 2 of Beards of War, coming soon to an AoD ATL near you, Crashball examines the prevalence of beards amongst backs in a searing analysis subtitled Bumfluff Brigade


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537 Responses to Beards of War – Part 1

  1. dovahkin says:

    snoop, no, your quite right. Just one very extreme one.

  2. flaviafamkesandwich says:


    isnt that 2 right wingers there?

    CJ and…?

    Snoopy, if only they had them there fancy button things on this aul yoke

  3. sagmog says:

    I’m quite happy about the db issue arising again btw.
    I’ve now got a lot more info to give the engineers to get a proper fix.

    It’s why we’re testing thoroughly.

  4. laraxwell says:

    so Snoop O’ Connell is our first Captain
    Bet he’s proud

  5. flaviafamkesandwich says:

    looks like I’m on the bench desperately trying to fill the bucket, I’ll be bleeding exhausted by the time I get on

  6. laraxwell says:

    kjh -when will we see you wearing North?

  7. CJ says:

    Sag, once we have tested it can we go and run it past the people in starbucks to see if they have any last minute amends?

  8. sagmog says:

    The UI seems fine I think.
    My cappuccino agrees.

    We just have one techie issue – understanding why the database does it’s slowing down thing.
    Once that’s sorted, you can moan about the UI again.

  9. killerline says:


    When I met you in Newcastle you did bring an iPad. Just saying…

  10. CJ says:

    Killer, that was so I could live blog our meet…. for the first 5 to 10 minutes before I got bored.

  11. dovahkin says:

    is there any way of testing it without everybody swapping between different blogs and stuff. Im not complaining just thinking there might be a more efficient way of doing it? there must be someway of using some code to just post automatically at regular intervals or soemthing. Im sure Killers circuits have the technology?

  12. sagmog says:

    Different ips, different locations, different OS, different browsers, different computers….
    These are just some of the reasons why lots of testers is good.
    That’s before we even look at the “human factor”.

    Can’t automate that.

  13. dovahkin says:

    Makes sense. So in order to make sure its idiot proof you need lots of….

    Still, nice to feel welcome for a change.

  14. killerline says:

    the “human factor”

    They mean KJH here I think…

  15. MisterIks says:

    That’s before we even look at the “human factor”.

    Can’t automate that.


  16. killerline says:


    they factored me in already.

    Being machine-like they know roughly my every rebel-rousing move.

    It’s the loose cannons they’re adjusting for…

  17. spankman says:

    What happened? The internet died on me and I thought I had lost his website forever….

    In sum: VERY excited the BBC have spent their money on the England tests in Argentina.

    What classic historical quips will Inverdale et al concoct?!

  18. MisterIks says:

    Did anyone notice that small talk interview with George Gregan delves into facial hair? AoD blazes yet another trail.

  19. MisterIks says:


    I see. So Lara must be the stuff of nightmares then?!

  20. dovahkin says:

    wont those tests be in the middle of the night though?

  21. yosoy says:

    What classic historical quips will Inverdale et al concoct?!

    Something something Battle of River Plate

    Something something Las Malvinas

    Montage of Eva Peron, Che Guevara, Mendez punching Ackford, Maradona’s handball, Goose Green footage set to Don’t Cry for me Argentina.

  22. killerline says:

    What’s your thoughts on the beard in rugby? The average front row looks like an oversized hipsters convention these days.

    Come on. Out with it whoever you are…

  23. laraxwell says:

    I heard that choir boy Hogg

  24. killerline says:


    It’s a boon time for the nano/killer robot brigade.

    I’m working on an army of robots to kill the killer robots with.

  25. sunbeamtim says:

    (might have been doing a little cleaning of the tables when that happened )

    Just wondering what drug taking euphemism that is . > is.

  26. CJ says:

    new blog back up.

  27. sagmog says:

    We’re back up to speed on the test page.

  28. laraxwell says:

    2 young girls over here-20’s- very ill after taking cannabis yesterday. One gone on life support.
    Synthetic shite element likely to blame

  29. sunbeamtim says:

    Interesting , dov . Are damn . Intre .fuck.

  30. spankman says:

    What’s the link to the test page? All this chopping and changing….

  31. flaviafamkesandwich says:

    ta da

  32. toooldtoplay says:

    What is this new blog of which so many speak?

  33. toooldtoplay says:

    Aah, just seen a link will try it.

    Bloody work has kept me rather busy the last couple of weeks.

  34. flaviafamkesandwich says:

    for those of you still here:

    a little piece of me died the other day, I was in the local shop with the kids, they were loading up of sweets/chocolate etc, when my second eldest daughter lands over to me with a 500ml bottle of coke, dont usually buy them coke/fizzy drinks(do on occassion though)…she asks ‘can I get this? its got my name on it, and all the fada’s are in the right place’….I bought it for here……

    so in an Expro like plea, what should I do?

  35. hairbearhero says:

    Synthetic shite element likely to blame

    This is the one thing I really don’t understand about attempting to ban drugs. It’s literally impossible for the government to ban “synthetic” highs right now – they ban specific compounds and it takes them months to get round to banning it.

    The producers, by contrast, can simply alter the composition of their drug in a miniscule fashion and hey presto, it’s a non-banned substance again. Takes em a couple of weeks, tops, as none of these synthetic highs are tested for safety/side effects, thereby making them potentially vastly more dangerous than actual cannabis, which has been studied and tested pretty intensively for decades, with most studies concluding that it’s a relatively harmless drug, especially when compared to stuff like alcohol or tobacco.

    Just legalise it, tax it, regulate it and stop firing your fucking experts when they tell you something you don’t like.

  36. hairbearhero says:

    Got a bit grumpy there, apologies.I don’t even smoke, it’s more the knuckle-headed obtuseness of politicians on this particular topic that winds me up.

  37. Underdog says:

    With you entirely, HBH.

    I want to see this ball start rolling.

    Then I want to see Hask’s face when someone tells him his Diaries have been used as a springboard for MJ legalisation.

  38. flaviafamkesandwich says:

    @HBH but what about the Coke??

  39. hairbearhero says:


    Coke is a gateway drink, Don’t do it, before you know it they’ll be addicted to Irn Bru.

  40. craigsman says:

    Legalize all drugs. In schools.

  41. craigsman says:

    Hmm – just realized the timing difference here…

  42. shylurkingmrcoddfish says:

    Other site seems to have crashed some time after 21:30. When I attempted to see older comments I was eventually shown the 500 server error as 22:10. Obviously Sag needs to be tied to his chair to will the site to stay up. Such problems can be a real pig to solve.

  43. laraxwell says:

    I’m ready with the sledgehammer whenever sag needs me

  44. coddfish says:

    Hask new site:
    Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, root@localhost and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

  45. avsfan says:

    I was just able to log on and post. This is what I posted:

    Good Evening All

    Hosea Gear off to Toulouse at the end of the season. I’m trying hard to maintain my sanguinity.

  46. laraxwell says:

    Ssshh Avs…I think we’ve got caught up in some mating ritual between the Coddfish es…I think tying sag to a chair and a local host is part of it

  47. MisterIks says:

    @Sag – if it is of interest at this godforsaken hour, I joined the new site a few pages back via a link from this site, and it was very slow clicking on ‘newer comments’ to get to the latest page.

    Then posting my drivel at this late hour just hung there until the error message showed up…

    Anyway, good night everyone.

  48. avsfan says:

    Now I can’t log on. The coddfishes must be really going at it.

    *tip toes out the door*

  49. flair99 says:

    I was about to post the same info. With the same comment about my own sanguinity.
    Except that in French being sanguine means being a hot head.
    Sick of the French rugby club scene quickly turning into an English football scene. I hope my predictions of hard negociations in June between the FFR and the LNR will prove right. Dog help us if we let the likes of Boudjelal run the show for their own profit and publicity.
    I still look forward to our tour down Under, but it does look more and more like just a commercial enterprise. Good morning all, and good night from here.

  50. avsfan says:

    Flair – I assume you are busy counting sheep, but I am looking forward to the tour also. The ABs could be ripe for the picking. No Sam Whitelock will weaken our pack further, although I am pleased to see Dominic Bird get a run. He is a big unit – I read somewhere he is the biggest guy in Super rugby, and only 22. I’m hoping to see Rene Ranger at 13 also. It should be a good series.

    I hope you are right about the FFR / LNR negotiations. The further rugby moves toward the oikball model, the more uneasy I get.

  51. deebee7 says:


    and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    Well? What did you do? Own up!

    Morning all, we’re here I’m assuming? Other blog seems to have collapsed faster than Matt Dunning chasing a Whopper with Fries.

  52. deebee7 says:

    On reflection, taking the piss out of Matt Dunning when having Matt ‘Fats’ Stevens as my avatar is probably a little rich. But I do see a parallel here – if you’re Matt, you’re fat.

  53. deebee7 says:

    Unless you’re Giteau, then you’re simply a gateau waiting for a front rower to gobble you up.

  54. deebee7 says:

    Black Forest gateau
    Glistens in the morning
    Stevens smiles. Crumbs

    ‘Scuse me Deebee…
    New Blog Up

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