The origins of Prigus Sport are in a small little town in the North East corner of Georgia named Rabun Gap. That’s where the Bengal Tigers started. The Prigus is the game ball. It was named after a tiny field lizard that inhabited the farms around that that time. Sadly, it went extinct after a short run craze of prigus-skinned billfolds swept the state. As a tribute to this tiny unfortunate lizard, they named the game ball and eventually the sport after it. In present day, it’s about the size of a tennis ball, but has a hot pink suede skin and is solid rubber on the inside (the hot pink color was later adopted to be seen better on the field). There used to be a rubber factory that supported the town of Rabun Gap in the 1920’s, making rubber the available game ball of choice and it has stayed that way since. During WWII the ball was adapted due to the rubber shortage. A two-inch circle was removed from the middle of the ball making it no longer solid. This change made the ball lighter, faster and caused fewer injuries. The ball is cast up and down the field with wooden paddles (similar to the classic fraternity paddle), with the goal of the game being to knock down the opponent’s pins. The pins were originally circle disks about 18 inches in circumference. They were secured by poles that held them up until a pin was struck down by the Prigus. Once all the pins were down a winner was declared. A couple farms in the area put teams together and they played other teams from other farms in the area. The American Dingo, a breed of dog known around Rabun Gap who liked to eat the tiny lizards, kept getting involved in the games and eventually joined the sport. The Dingo became important to the team. The dog would play the part of a sprinter and carry the Prigus up the field and give it to player to score. They are extremely smart and easily trained, and amazingly became part of the evolution of the game.
Dawn of prigus sport, Rabun Gap, Bengaled Tigers, Georgia 1922
Early team mascot Rabun Gap, Georgia 1922
The first American Dingo Prigus sport dog, “Winston Legthigh” Forever immortalized
Prigus Sport Pins
The sport became a staple of entertainment for the town of Rabun Gap. Eventually a couple of colleges in the area picked up the sport and slowly integrated it in their programs. As soon as Prigus entered the collegiate arena, the sport was really brought to life and better equipment was developed. A regulation field was created. Regulation paddles and pins were established. Like most good things, it grew and started to spread up north. It became very popular very fast on the East Coast with the proximity of colleges. It took Prigus 5 years to move as far west as Colorado, but then the following year Prigus made it debut in Nevada, then Southern California all the way up to Oregon quickly followed. The colleges were competing regularly in the college season. The demand for a longer season was finally met when 18 cities were specially selected for pro teams.
Objective: To move the Prigus up the field using paddles to knock down the opponent’s pins. First team to knock down all six pins wins the match. First team to two match wins takes the game.
Start of Game: The Prigus is hit by a ref with the official golden paddle anywhere on the field, and both team’s dogs go after it. Whichever team dog obtains the Prigus will start the first play at their triangle. Each match will start this way. Each team will start at their start triangle 7 yards from their goal and work up the field until a pin is knocked down. After one team scores, the Prigus will start with the team that has lost a pin, and they will move up the field hoping to get their pin back. This process repeats itself until one team takes all the pins down.
Rules: Each team has 18 players and one dog to a team, 8 players per team are allowed on the field at one time. Substitutions of players can only happen during offense. The team on offense can move the Prigus up the field using their paddles to pass to another player. The teammate who catches it then runs up the field until the player decides to pass again or go for the goal. The offensive team’s dog can run the Prigus up the field to assist players, but the dog can’t score. Only the appointed dog-player can deal with the dog and pass the Prigus to another teammate and only the appointed dogcatcher on defense can apprehend the dog, but only when the dog is in possession of the Prigus. The dog can’t be tackled or caught by any other player on the opposing team other than their appointed dogcatcher. The dog is equipped with a bendable rubber rod that looks like a car antenna with a flag on it. Once the flag is captured, the dog has been caught, but only if the dog possesses the Prigus. The team that is on defense can block, push, hold and intercept the Prigus. When the defensive team gains possession of the Prigus, they become the offensive team and their dog is allowed on the field. The previous offensive team’s appointed dog player must take their team dog to the dog box.This can be a rough game. Players can push, light tackle or use take down methods to obtain the Prigus. Penalties are at the discretion of the referees. The chances of getting hit by the Prigus or a paddle are pretty likely. Light pads and shin guards are encouraged but not mandatory.
Scoring: When the pin is struck, it will spin from a circle pattern to an x pattern then fall down like a golf flag in a hole. When a pin goes down, a point is earned. First team to 6 points wins the match. A team can regain their pins back by knocking the opponent’s pins down. It’s a pin for pin game. The score can go up and down until only two pins remain on the losing team’s side. Then it’s sudden death and they must stay alive by either defending their goal or knocking down the opponent’s pins down to two (a tie) to start gaining pins back.
Prigus Sport League
The Prigus Season. October–March is the regular season, Playoffs are in April and the Championship is the 1st week of May. It’s 24 weeks of regular season games. All 18 teams will play 22 games each, eleven home and eleven away games. Each team will play 1 sudden death game in the regular season, which consists of a one round matchup at the team’s stadium who has the better record. Each team will get one bye week for rest, practice and injury recovery. A regular season consists of 396 games. It works out to 16 games a week, with one double double header on Saturday, two morning games, and evening games. After the regular season comes to a close, there’s a week break then 4 weeks of playoffs. Week one is the Firstround Wild Card match up, Second round Divisional, Third round Divisional Final, Fourth Round is Championship, and the first week of May is the Prigus Final. Each match of the playoffs is best of three like the regular season. On the fifth and final week, the two teams that advanced all the way to the Prigus Final go head to head in a best of 5 match in a randomly selected stadium. The award ceremony will follow the final match in the game. The champion will be awarded the Prigus Memorial Field Lizard Trophy.
Georgia’s own Rabun Gap Tigers.
Mascots of Prigus Sport, the few that has surfaced so far….
Sheboygan Krampus’ Wisconsin
Tupelo Muroiders, Mississippi
Peoria Bobcats, Illinois
Eugene Bigfeet, Oregon
Norfolk Pelicans, Virginia
Akron Goodyears, Ohio
Virginia City Outlaws, Nevada
Glen Falls Mohawks, New York
Devils Lake Floods, North Dakota
Burlington Yetis, Vermont
Dinosaur Point Mudmen
Grand Junction Things
Dodge City Ghosts
Bonus/ sudden death: When the losing team has only two pins left to defend, this becomes a bonus for the winning team. The losing team can only regain pins if they get their opponent’s pins down to two, resulting in a tying score. The first team to score can start to build up pins again. The other team will remain in the same predicament.
Players: There is zone or man-to-man defense. The positions are the same for offense and defense- one center up front, two Pennon Guards on either side of the center, three Midi Guards, and two Backs. The two Backs positions can move around and are not bound to the desired defense. They have special duties. The two Back positions are a dog advisor and dog snare. The Dog is only used on offense. The dog is sidelined until their team regains the prigus.
Penalties: There is a penalty box; the standard time for most penalties is 2 minutes. The team who gets a penalty can’t substitute players until their penalty is up, then regular substitution can resume. If there’s a situation where both teams get penalties, then no one can substitute until time is up. If during a penalty a player goes down and gets hurt, they must do without the hurt player and the player in the box until the time is up. This becomes an advantage for the opposing team. If the team dog is caught, the dog must sit out for 2 minutes during the game.
Types of Penalties: Fighting, hitting with the paddle, unnecessary roughness, throwing of the prigus, unsportsmanlike conduct, off sides/ offense in defense’s goal triangles, delay of game, unauthorized dog seizures, too many players on the field, substitutions during defense. Most of these result in a 2-minute time out, up to the referee’s discretion.
Challenges/ Face offs: If two players get into an altercation, and both are issued penalties, they can square off in a paddle fight, where only the paddles can connect. There can be no body shots, or that player will automatically lose the challenge and get 4 minutes in the penalty box. Whoever’s paddle breaks first loses the challenge and gets 3 minutes in the box and the winner stays on the field and continues playing.
Time: There isn’t a time limit, nor are there time restrictions. The matches can end in 5 minutes or hours later. If one team unanimously agrees to throw in the towel for any reason, they must raise their surrendering white team flag of resignation. If both teams decide the game must end for any reason, then a shoot out occurs. During a shoot out, each team get six tries to knock down as many pins as they can from midfield. The team that has the most pins standing wins. If there’s a tie or no pins were knocked down in the first round of the shoot out, then the procedure is repeated but from 28 yards up from midfield.
Rabun Gap Tigers 1963 uniform
Official kicks of the Rabun Gap Tigers