Botanical Mascots, Part 1

Traditionally, American sports mascots are either animals or admirable people groups. Lions, Yellowjackets, Spartans, Seminoles. For whatever reason, we feel an obligation to give a "name" to our sports teams. Instead of, say, being the Philadelphia Football Sporting Club, it's the Philadelphia Eagles. Sports clubs abroad will often have a symbol, but not a mascot. In part this is because many pro sports clubs still have associations with amateur sporting clubs; you can work out and play basketball and maybe even represent the club on an amateur level if you pay your dues, while the pro team belonging to the club brings in guys from this or that other country to play for them.

The idea with mascots is normally to choose something full of aggression and strength. Unless you're the Oregon Ducks or the Oregon State Beavers (maybe Oregon really is the Europe of the United States). Rugby has its fair share of Pumas, Lions, Bears, and Eagles. But more often than not rugby teams will be un-fearsome creatures (Ospreys, Springboks, Wallabies), jersey-color derivatives (Reds, Blues), or just straight-up no mascot/name (Munster, Edinburgh, Toulonnais). But best of all is the tradition at the national team level to have botanical names.

There's nothing as bad-ass as playing rugby with a plant as your totem. All four of the British rugby unions are represented by plants, and several other nations followed their lead through history.

I think it makes the Eagles of the U.S. seem kind of lame. Unfortunately both the official flower (rose) and the official tree (oak) of the U.S. are taken by the rugby unions of other nations. You snooze, you lose.

[caption id="attachment_8920" align="aligncenter" width="339" caption="England: what a rose looks like in attack."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8923" align="aligncenter" width="310" caption="Wales fans wanted: willing to wear lilies on head."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8919" align="aligncenter" width="313" caption="Scotland: a thorny runner is the thistle."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8928" align="aligncenter" width="355" caption="The shamrock adorns Ireland's shield. The Irish Rugby Union represents both Irish states."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8924" align="aligncenter" width="321" caption="The fern of the New Zealand All Blacks."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8911" align="aligncenter" width="515" caption="Fiji runs behind The Palm."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8914" align="aligncenter" width="373" caption="Japan are the Cherry Blossoms."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8918" align="aligncenter" width="364" caption="Romania are The Oaks."][/caption]


  1. [...] Elsewhere I have spoken of the tendency in the rugby world to take plants as mascots, a habit which I thoroughly approve of. It’s part of the ethos that makes rugby a “hooligans’ game played by gentlemen”. And I always approve of tempered masculinity, or that is to say, I approve of true masculinity. [...]


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