• Old boys of the empire rugby nations are often charicatured as red-faced buffoons in blazers with wire badges, but elsewhere the game has a different feel, a stubborn history of social dissent and non-conformism. In Italy, Benito Mussolini re-branded rugby as palla ovale, deciding it was an evolution of the classic Roman games feninda and harpastum. This new and frankly surprising Italian pedigree qualified the game to serve as a vehicle for fascist unity, and by 1927 rugby had its own propaganda committee. Palla ovale was going to revitalize Italian masculinity while teaching the subjugation of the individual to the needs of the group. Rugby wouldn’t oblige. Despite the team framework, the game has always favoured individualism, from the moment

    Sep 26,