First of all, the quote in the title of this post is absolutely perfect to sum up how this weekend turned out: love conquered fear. For a while now I have been extremely nervous for the all star games that I played in today, and finally I think that my pure love for the game and my desire to just play awesome rugby completely conquered my fear and nerves about actually doing well. What's funny is that usually when this happens is when you end up playing your best rugby game. Before today really all I was thinking about was playing well and making sure that I performed the best that I could. I put tons of pressure on myself, and I had extremely high (and maybe unreal) expectations. At the 7 hour practice we had I proved to myself how putting too much pressure on yourself can be a really negative and bad thing, and it completely showed in my game. But I think that the change I made for these two games was what exactly I was putting pressure on myself for; instead of putting pressure on myself to be a fantastic player, I was putting a healthy amount of pressure on myself to play, experience, and learn the best rugby that I could because of how great of an opportunity this is. It definitely made all the difference, because I didn't really have as many nerves to do the things I normally do. Playing with this high level team in this high level competition wasn't as foreign and scary anymore; deep down it was really just the same game I've always played and loved to play. Knowing this, I did all the things I normally would do in a game and I did them pretty well I think! I don't think I played my very best, but I certainly think I put in a great effort, learned a ton, and gained an immense amount of experience.
Also, I experienced 10s for the first time this weekend. I never realized how big of a difference taking out five players makes in the game of rugby! At first when we all decided to play 10s instead of the regular 15s, I didn't think it was that big of a deal because only 7s sounded like a drastic change to me. But 10s is still a decent amount more running, especially for the forwards. We took on more of a back position, which I was not used to, and there certainly isn't as much rucking in 10s. I think there is a lot more of pick and go along with quick passes involved, or maybe just quicker loose play in general. What's funny is that I have been absolutely training my butt off forever for the all star team, and I was absolutely winded from playing 10s for the first time! At first I had a heart attack because I thought that all of my training had completely failed me and that I would be completely doomed for my all star games. But during the all star 15s games I noticed the significant difference in the two, and I was much more in shape for that type of play (THANK GOD).
I have also come to notice that rugby players are some of the absolute best people to talk to, and also some of the smartest people I have ever met (which probably goes hand in hand with why they're so interesting and great to talk to)! Not only are many of them witty and hysterical, but some of them just seem to be able to make a great conversation out of just about anything. And I don't think it's shocking or surprising; not only is rugby such a team oriented sport with everyone looking out for one another, but it's also such an incredibly smart game. There are an endless amount of strategies used in rugby, and I'd say at least half of the game requires you to seriously use your brain. I'm just so happy to be involved with this culture, the sport and the people involved in it are all completely worthwhile.