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WOD:   2/18/16

AMRAP 25 minutes of:
400m run
30 Abmat sit-ups
20 Burpees
10 Triple-unders



            If you have never heard of the sport of hurling, rest assured you are in good company.  Few people outside the country of Ireland have ever heard of it and fewer still have ever seen it played.  Over that last 20 years, however, it has found its way into America thanks to Irish immigrants and a boost from the internet.

            Hurling is an old sport.  Real old.  In Ireland it has been played for well over 2000 years-- predating the written word in that country and tied to many important events throughout Ireland's history.  Originally, the sport was designed by Celtic chieftains as a means of keeping their warriors in shape and motivated when not at war.  The requirements needed for open field warfare—speed, stamina, endurance, teamwork and courage were all built into the game; not surprisingly it is tied closely to the warrior culture.  The greatest heroes from Ireland's history, including Cúchulainn and the Knights of the Red Branch were known not only for their fearlessness in combat, but also for their skill in the sport of hurling.

            Hurling is played on a field the size of a regulation soccer pitch and includes two teams of 15 using ax-shaped sticks (called a “hurls” or “hurleys”) to move a ball (called a “sliotar”) up the field towards their opponent's goal.  The goal is about the same size as a standard soccer goal and is defended by a goalie.  The goal also includes uprights similar to those used in football and points can be made by hitting the sliotar below the crossbar and into the goal(for 3 points) or over the crossbar and between the uprights for a single point.  Play happens very quickly since there are no timeouts and only five substitutions per team in a game.  Unlike some other sports where drawing fouls or faking injury is commonplace, hurlers are more likely to hide or marginalize injuries in an attempt to keep playing.  There is only one referee watching a large field where the ball can travel a 80 meters or more in a single hit, so players learn to “play to the whistle” and never take for granted that penalties will be seen by the referee.

            The Benton Brigade is located in Corvallis and is part of the NW Hurling League, a group of 6 teams including Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver (WA), Portland, Corvallis, and Missoula (MT). Founded in 2008, the Brigade has maintained a continuous presence in Oregon and is the only team in the mid-valley.  It is also the only team that did not have a full-time Irish player on the roster (until 2016)—a point of pride when playing against hurlers who grew up with the sport.  Three years ago, the Brigade began receiving sponsorship from Rogue Brewing and is the only team in the league to have an international company sponsoring them.  Hurling is a Spring/Summer sport with practices starting in February/March and play continuinginto the month of August.  There are five tournaments a year, with each team taking a turn at hosting the other teams.  The Benton Brigade holds its tournament (the Willamette Cup) in May out at the Crystal Lake sports complex.  During the 2015 season, the Brigade won their home tournament and was able to keep the cup in Corvallis where it is currently on display at Cloud and Kellys—our other sponsor.

       Practice starts soon, so this is great time join!  One of Crossfit’s main recommendations is to learn new sports and this is your opportunity! Talk to Kat Eastlake for details on our local team: Benton Brigade.