Sport in the UK

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The final of the football competition takes place every May at the famous Wembley stadium in London. Some of the best known clubs in England are Manchester United, Liverpool and the Arsenal. In Scotland either Rangers, Celtic or Aberdeen usually win the cup or the championship.

Today, many people are only interested in football because of the pools and the chance of winning a lot of money.

Football pools

"Doing the pools" is a popular form of betting on football results each week. It is possible to win more than half a million pounds for a few pence.

The English have never been against a gamble though most of them know where to draw the line and wisely refrain from betting too often. Since the war the most popular form of gambling is no doubt that of staking a small sum on the football pools. (The word "pool" is connected with the picture of streams of money pouring into a common fund, or "pool" from which the winners are paid after the firm has taken its expenses and profit.) Those who do so receive every week from one of the pools firms a printed form; on this are listed the week's matches. Against each match, or against a number of them, the optimist puts down a I, a 2 or an x to show that he thinks the result of the match will be a home win (stake on funs team), an away win (stake on a team of opponent) or a draw. The form is then posted to the pools firm, with a postal order or cheque for the sum staked (or, as the firms say, "invested"). At the end of the week the results of the matches are announced on television and published in the newspapers and the "investor" can take out his copy of his coupon and check his forecast.

Rugby

There is another game called rugby football, so called because it originated at Rugby, a well-known English public school. In this game the players may carry the ball. Rugby football (or 'rugger') is played with an egg-shaped ball, which may be carried and thrown (but not forward). The ball is passed from hand to hand rather than from foot to foot. If a player is carrying the ball he may be 'tackled' and made to fall down. Each team has fifteen players, who spend a lot of time lying in the mud or on top of each other and become very dirty, but do not need to wear such heavily protective clothing as players of American football.

There are two forms of rugby - Rugby Union, which is strictly amateur, and Rugby League, played largely in the north, which is a professional sport. Rugby Union has fifteen players, while Rugby League has thirteen, but the two games are basically the same. They are so similar that somebody who is good at one of them can quickly learn to become good at the other. The real difference between them is a matter of social history. Rugby union is the older of the two. In the nineteenth century it was enthusiastically taken up by most of Britain's public schools. Rugby league split off from rugby union at the end of the century. There are two versions of this fast and aggressive ball game: rugby union and rugby league. Although it has now spread to many of the same places in the world where rugby union is played (rugby union is played at top level in the British Isles, France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand; also to a high level in North America, Argentina, Romania and some Pacific islands). Rugby can be considered the 'national sport' of Wales, New Zealand, Fiji, Western Samoa and Tonga, and of South African whites. Its traditional home is among the working class of the north of England, where it was a way for miners and factory workers to make a little bit of extra money from their sporting talents. Unlike rugby union, it has always been a professional sport.

: 27/06/2007