Irish Road Bowling In Historic Rugby

On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, a new sport with British Isles origins made its way to Historic Rugby. Irish Road Bowling is now a fixture in our village, with regular matches held every couple of weeks.

What is Irish Road Bowling? It’s a combination of bowling and golf. It involves a cannonball. And almost anyone can play. A course is mapped out on the streets around the village. Participants throw the 28-oz.cannonball (known in the sport as a “bullet) down the road and around the course. The team that completes the course in the fewest throws wins.

“There’s something extremely satisfying about throwing a cannonball down a public road,” one Rugbeian was heard to proclaim.

The sport has its origins in one of the numerous skirmishes between the English and the Irish a few centuries ago. The Brits fired cannonballs at the Irish. The first few Irishmen discovered that it was a real tactical error to try to stop a rolling cannonball with an arm or a leg. But if you waited until the cannonball stopped, you could pick it up and play with it.

So that’s how the sport was born–as an act of defiance by using English ammunition for a new Irish pastime.

The sport has evolved into a very popular, organized endeavor. Irish matches feature professionals from around the world. There are a number of Irish Road Bowling organizations in the U.S. including one in Ireland, West Virginia, where Rugby acquired its road bowling cannonballs.

And Rugbeians have so embraced the sport that we have our own teams and T-shirts. Anyone who’s in the village on the day of a match is invited to participate; we’ll connect you with a team. And there are T-shirts for sale so you can really feel part of the action.

Watch the calendar for the next Irish Road Bowling event.