Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rugby Anyone?

As someone always looking to learn more about sports, I was delighted to find today’s guest blogger. Lindsay Stordahl writes the blog That Mutt. She enjoys a variety of sports such as rugby, running, swimming, and backpacking. She was so gracious as to provide us with some insight on the sport of rugby. When you’re done reading this, shoot over to her site to find a wealth of dog (and some cat) information and links.

No one ever asks me if I still play rugby, because once you start, you're kind of in it for life. Yesterday was the warmest day yet this year in Fargo. The ground was saturated from melting snow, everything coated in mud. I could smell rugby.

This is the time of year when spring practices are finally outside, dozens of cleats hoofing the sometimes soft, sometimes still frozen fields.

Most people seem to know what rugby is, more so than when I first started playing. When someone hears I play rugby, I usually get a response like, "Oh, yeah, wasn't there a Friends episode about that?" Or, "So that's, like, football with no pads, right?" Or even, "Is that the game with those sticks?" Well, no, that would be lacrosse.

Rugby is rugby. But even experienced players admit they don't know all the rules. And let me clarify something: I don't know all the rules. I get penalties. I drop the ball, often. I get tired during the first half. I have just stood there while a younger, faster player went for a tackle I could've made. I am often slow to get up. I will call my opponent names when really she just stiff-armed me legally.

But explaining the rules of rugby isn't all that hard. This is what I say to new players: The ball cannot be passed forward. Play is continuous. You will get tackled, and you must release the ball when you do.

But try to remember that with six 200-pound women running at you during your first match. And you have the ball. Every rookie seems to forget the most basic rules. It never fails. I watch as she catches a pass and realizes the size of her opponents charging her at full speed. The rookie will either:

1. Freeze, get tackled and cling to the ball as people are kicking, raking with their cleats and screaming at her to let go.

2. Throw the ball straight up in the air, because she remembers no one can tackle her if she doesn't have the ball.

Both are bad choices. The first choice results in a penalty. The second is even worse, because the other team usually intercepts the ball. Getting tackled is not such a bad thing in rugby. Unlike football, play doesn't stop. Instead, you can place the ball so your teammates can run by and pick it up. No big deal.

I joined rugby because of its idea of toughness. But really, the best thing about it is how it's truly a team sport. The number I wear doesn't represent me. It represents my position, and that changes from match to match. It's a great feeling to be a part of rugby, so I will be out there each year, looking for a good match. I guess you could say I'm hooked.


Patricia said...

I have one thing to say on the subject of Rugby:e The French National team has the hottest guys on the planet. If you don't believe me, check out their calendar. :o)

Apryl DeLancey said...

Giggle, giggle