Arcane public school games explained: Anyone for Rugby Fives, The Field Game or Winkies?

From a sport expressly designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant to a game in which furking is an offence, willing - and not-so-willing - partakers explain the rules

Winkies

Winchester College

"Winchester is not a school with a strong sporting tradition. It's basically full of spoddy civil-servants-in-waiting who'd get bullied anywhere else. Etonians kick sand in our faces and steal our girlfriends, or at least they would if we had girlfriends.

It is, accordingly, a nice touch that the weirdly arcane school sport Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is expressly designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant: it's written into the rules that you have to kick the football as hard as you can if you want to kick it again, neatly eliminating the possibility of dribbling and forcing you to wang it downfield and chase, instead.

Smack it, run, hope, smack it, run, hope; you immediately begin to see how the place became a British foreign policy training ground. Still, at least it gave us malcos a chance."

Anon, Old Wykehamist

Rugby Fives is like squash, but you use a glove instead of a racket Rugby Fives is like squash, but you use a glove instead of a racket (Robin Heighway-Bury)
Rugby Fives

Rugby School

"I came to play Rugby Fives back in the Sixties, by which time it had practically died out. The courts were antiquated and there was no longer a league. The irony is that while it had almost died at Rugby, it was played at the other public schools, such as Oundle and Uppingham. Thomas Arnold, Rugby's great head master, and a lot of other masters, went off to found Clifton and Marlborough and other public schools back in the 19th century, so the game spread through the Rugby diaspora.

It's like squash, but you don't have a racket, you use a glove instead and play up against a wall and sideboards – basically a squash court. And the scoring is exactly the same as squash. Of course, you can hit the ball harder with a squash racket, but you can still give it quite a whack. You might end up with a slightly calloused hand.

Then there's Eton Fives, which is played with a buttress in the middle of the court. It was developed because of the buttress in Eton Chapel. You could say it's a more interesting game: it has its quirks in the way it ricochets at different angles. But then Rugby Fives is harder, simpler, straighter."

Tim Blackstone, 68, semi-retired financial PR, London

The Field Game is a cross between rugby and football (Robin Heighway-Bury) The Field Game is a cross between rugby and football (Robin Heighway-Bury)
The Field Game

Eton College

"Everybody seems to know about Eton Wall Game, but it's hardly ever played. Field Game, on the other hand, is played by everyone. For one term it's the only sport on offer. A cross between rugby and football, you have forwards and backs like rugby, but can only use your feet. There's a scrum, which is called a bully. It's made up of one post, like the hooker, two side posts and three corners. Then there's one bup, who is like the number eight in rugby. You never lock head and shoulders in the bully.

Instead, one side bends forward and the other pushes back with their stomachs. The ball goes into the bully and the post hooks it out to the fly who then runs up-field. There are two ways to score: by kicking it into the (hockey-sized) goal for three points. Or by deflecting the ball off an opposing player to fall behind their line and then scoring a try. This nets you five points and is called a rouge. There's one other rule to remember. The bup and the bully, while formed, can bring the ball forward. But they cannot kick it back. If they do it's called furking – and furking is an offence."

Hugo Sells, 26, property developer, London

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy