Now you've spoiled all our fun

It was a warm late Sunday afternoon in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia, when the phone rang in the central police station. Someone wanted to report a gang of men chasing each other around a large field and winding up in a pile of bodies that, from a distance, looked like a serious brawl. Still others were standing around watching and yelling at them. Since Rostov-on-Don isn't far from ethnically troubled Chechnya, the cops decided they'd better respond in force. Dozens of them hurried to the scene, and soon about 100 suspects had been busted and hauled down to the station house . But a couple of hours later, all of them walked out without a single formal charge being filed. Turns out they'd simply been playing rugby, a game characterized by its scrums – in which players wrestle for control of an inflated ball. The problem: In a nation whose favorite outdoor sport is soccer, rugby has relatively few adherents and no designated facilities. So players must find space where they can . In view of active counterterrorism operations, the Rostov-on-Don cops said they should have filed notice of their intentions beforehand to avoid "such an unpleasant situation." Oh, OK, sighed one of the group, acknowledging that "this isn't the first time" he and his friends had been mistaken for a bunch of hooligans.

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