THIS RUGBY COACH WAS A GHOST

                          By Eric Shackle*
 

**Eric Shackle has posted an "ON-LINE" book containing
      various bits of information. Read his pages HERE.


              Nestled among tall pines and oaks just south of the Big South Fork National Park, lies Historic Rugby
        Tennessee, a British-founded village whose Utopian dream of a better life in America has never quite died.

              Historic Rugby is one of America's most intriguing historic sites. It operates within the tiny village of Rugby,
        a living community. More than 65,000 visitors from all 50 states and many foreign countries are welcomed to
        Historic Rugby annually for guided tours, workshops, special events and overnight lodging in restored historic
        buildings.
                              - Historic Tennessee website,  <http://www.historicrugby.org>

             Searching the Internet can lead you down some strange and fascinating by-ways. The goal was to find which
        of the world's 15 places named Rugby participate in "the game they play in Heaven."

             A few hours' browsing disclosed (in addition to the Tennessee village) a spine-tingling English ghost story, a
        town that's proud of being the geographical centre of North America, and a place in Australia called Rugby, which
        most Australians have never heard of.

           The most famous Rugby of them all is an ancient town (pop. 85,000) in England, which gave its name to most, if
        not all the other Rugbys. The Warwickshire Tourism site says: "Visit Rugby School, birthplace of Rugby Football,
        scene of Tom Brown's Schooldays, home of the poet Rupert Brooke and the school which educated Lewis Carroll,
        author of Alice in Wonderland

            "It was at Rugby School in 1823 that William Webb Ellis, a pupil at the school, first broke the rules and picked
        up the ball and ran with it. The place where it happened - Rugby School's Close - can still be seen today.

            "For several centuries, the history of the town and the school have been intertwined. Many famous people
        have been educated at Rugby School including Thomas Hughes, whose book 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' was
        based on his own schooldays."

              After making a fotune from his book, which became a classic, Hughes gained a reputation as a social reformer.
         In 1880, he founded the village of Rugby, in Morgan County, Tennessee.

             He envisioned it as a place where those who wished could build a strong agricultural community through
        cooperative enterprise, while maintaining a cultured, Christian lifestyle, free of the rigid class distinctions that
        prevailed in Britain.

             It was to be a cooperative, class-free, community for younger sons of English gentry and others wishing to
        start life anew in America. At its peak, some 350 people lived in the colony. More than 70 buildings of Victorian
        design graced the East Tennessee townscape.

            This would-be Utopia survives today as both a living community and a fascinating historic site, unspoiled by
        modern development. Twenty original buildings still stand at the southern edge of the Big South Fork National
        Park, surrounded by rugged river gorges.

           Now let's get back to the other Rugbys...

           Not far from England's Rugby lie the ruined remains of Lawford Hall, where a family ancestor who had lost an
        arm during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I was known as One-Handed Boughton. After he died, his ghost was said
        to have appeared from time to time, riding across the neighboring grounds in a coach-and-six (a coach drawn by
        six horses), scaring the villagers out of their wits.

            A room in Lawford Hall which had been preserved as his bed-chamber was reputedly haunted. No-one could
        sleep in it, and none of the locals would work in it. The family finally decided to lay the ghost. The website
        http://www.rugbytown.co.uk/legends/boughton.htm describes the ceremony, which, it says, took place about
        1754:

            "Twelve clergymen were assembled, each bearing a lighted candle, all of which went out except that held by Mr.
        Hall, erstwhile Rector of Harborough Magna. He immediately laid the ghost by conjuring it into a bottle, corking it
        tight and throwing it into the pond [in a clay-pit opposite the Hall].

            "Around 1810 an old glass bottle was discovered in a pond near the site of Lawford Hall. It passed into the
        possession of Mr. Allesley Boughton Leigh of Brownsover Hall who was happy to allow it to be seen, but the
        cork has never been drawn.

            "Sir Francis Skipwith tells us that on a visit to Lawford Hall and enquiring into the possibility of fishing in the
        pool opposite he was politely deterred by Sir Edward Boughton on the grounds that he could not consent to
        disturbing the spirit of his ancestor... May God have mercy on us all."

            Across the Atlantic, Rugby, North Dakota is a town of 3000 people, 45 miles south of the Canadian border.
         Asked about his hometown,  Dondi Sobolik, Interim Executive Director, Geographical Center of North America
        Chamber of Commerce replied:

            "Rugby ND acquired its name from settlers back in the 1800's in reference to Rugby, England. In 1986, we
        celebrated our centennial with three days of parades, fireworks, community picnics, and in general, one huge
        party.

           "Andy Lathem, Rugby England's town crier, walked up and down the streets 'crying' the special events taking
        place.  We still communicate with Andy and do a news report via the radio on happenings in Rugby England.

            "Rugby football is not played in this area, although many inquiries are received from Australians and the
        English about playing a game here or playing on our local team.  American football is very popular.  The
        University of North Dakota had a Rugby football team at one time, but I'm not sure if they still play."

           Moving Down Under,  most Australians have never heard of their village called Rugby. It's in outback New South
        Wales, so tiny it's not shown on most maps.

            "Rugby is a small farming community of 20 to 30 permanent residents, 50km from Crookwell (100km from
        Goulburn) and 32km from Boorowa," said school principal Gillian Anton. "There are only a few buildings: two
        churches (one unused), a hall and the school. There was a shop until two years ago."

            Do they play Rugby in Rugby?  "No," she replied. "There are no sporting teams at all."

           Around the world,  Rugby football is played in more than 100 countries, encompassing all regions, races and
        peoples. One of the strangest-named teams are the Missoula Montana Maggots.
        Their website  <http://www.maggots.org/#maggots> says:

            "Missoula All-Maggots began in the fall of 1976 with a group of former students from the University of
        Montana. Faced with the harsh realities of graduation and lack of a rugby team, they formed a new 'old boys' side.
        The name 'UM Old Boys' might have been adopted had it not been for the typically insensitive Canadians who
        referred to the new team as 'that bunch of maggots from Montana.'  Eventually, the name took hold and is today
        worn with pride, as the club has become one of the top rugby teams in the northwestern United States.

           "The Maggots uniform is basic black with white collars, a color scheme that has also been adopted by the New
        Zealand national rugby team. On the shirt is a rosetta of intertwined maggots."



        FOOTNOTE: Other places named Rugby are in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and
        Virginia, all in the U.S., and South Africa (2).

        * Eric Shackle is a retired journalist who spends much of his spare time (his wife says too much) surfing the
        Internet and writing about it. His articles have been published by leading newspapers including the New York
        Times, the Toronto Globe and Mail (Canada), the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), and the Straits Times
        (Singapore).

        END

        Copyright © 2000.  Eric Shackle.
Media wishing to reprint this article should e-mail eshackle@ozemail.com.au


Printed with permission of Eric Shackle 

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