Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I found out today that the sweet documentary about the real Springboks team that the movie Invictus is based off of is called The 16th Man Education, and narrated by Morgan Freeman (so you can't go wrong). But what an awesome title!! It's funny that I even get excited over the awesome depth I see in just the title, which I could be totally making up, but I like thinking about the "16th man" in rugby - the person that isn't necessarily on the field playing but still a major contributor.

Teeny tiny pat on the shoulder.

YES. Today I practiced kicking again for a few hours and I had quite the turnaround since the mental breakdown I had a little while ago with it. Not only did I see some improvement, but I definitely realized something I was doing wrong which I consider a HUGE success. Ha ha, I absolutely love it when I am able to point out my own faults and mistakes! Now I know exactly what to work on, and when my kicking doesn't go right I know what I can fix. Before kicking a field goal, I usually try and calculate in my head exactly how many steps I should take back, what angle I should be at, and the number and size of strides I need to take before kicking the ball so I build up enough momentum and have enough power to accurately kick the ball. Sometimes, in this calculation I've finally noticed that I am overestimating where to position myself so I end up way too far away from the ball. Today I tried to focus a little more and be a little more exact as to where I should position myself, and it made all the difference. I even started playing "around the world" field goal kicking style and had success in it! I'd say I made over ten field goals today, which is a nice progress compared to the negative amounts I have made in the past.
I need to remember where I began in this journey to learn how to kick field goals. First of all, before any sort of practice with this, I haven't even had much experience with kicking in general; I played soccer until I was about 10 years old and then completely dropped it (although it seems like a really fun sport...I wish I played it more!). When I first took a shot at practicing any sort of kicking, I could barely get the ball off the ground. HA, I remember when I first tried to attempt drop kicking, I ended up flat on my back...Charlie Brown style. I practiced in all sorts of conditions. I don't think I'll ever forget kicking the ball around (horribly, it was an ugly sight) in the middle of my school's quad and in the middle of pouring rain, and hearing people laugh and holler at me from different dorm windows. Totally embarrassing, but I still ran around in the mud practicing kicking anyway. And drop kicking in the snow was almost impossible, but for some reason I thought if I practiced it enough times I would see some sort of improvement. But I did one heck of a lot of research for all sorts of rugby kicking, just like I did when I wanted to play scrumhalf and researched tips and drills for passing, and I think that really helped. I also had some help from a few teammates who are really great at kicking, and I think with these two knowledgeable sources and a ton of practice I made baby steps. My first successful drop kick was like a miracle, and now I do all the drop kicks for our team! I definitely have an incredibly long way to go, but even getting the ball off the ground is progress from where I began. And the same goes for field goals; they have taken me even longer than drop kicking to see progress in. Even up until our first game last fall season, I could not make it ANYWHERE NEAR the posts even if you lined me up right in front of them super close. It kills me that we lost that game by a very very small amount, an amount that could have been made up if I had made my field goals. I did not make a single field goal the entire season, and even in the spring I never made one. But I still continued to practice-practice-practice-practice-practice-practice-practice. I even marked out a tree behind one of our school's buildings that was the perfect high of rugby posts and aimed over that (probably killed a few birds in the's fine). I got some books with really fine tune details about where and how to position your foot in field goal kicking, and I started making progress. I one day had a freak accident field goal that turned out being perfect, and from there I at least thought that it was even possible for me to make a field goal. But after that I started to really get into the calculating part of field goal kicking, and focusing on every aspect of it. And that's when I started to get almost 50-50 with my kicking. I was able to make a decent amount of field goals, but it was definitely a gamble and not consistent. But from the constant amount of practice I put into it, I FINALLY had some success with it in the alumni game. I made all three of my field goals in a game situation, and I'm really proud of myself even though it means nothing at all and most of the kicks were fairly easy and near the posts. So a little while ago when my kicks went back to being dismal, it was infuriating because of the past amount of effort I have put into it! But I guess it shows that no matter how much practice I have put in before, does not mean I can suddenly stop and put it to rest. Today was great, but I can't think that it's okay for me to take a break from practicing kicking. Especially since my wrist is still bummed out and I have no time to play on a real team, it really is one of the only things I am still capable of practicing that is rugby related.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

At the root of it all.

My schedule is getting busier and busier, which means that it's going to get harder for me to figure out a work out plan and I'm going to have to plan a lot more around fitting time in to adequately train for rugby. Just because I'm developing more priorities over this summer, doesn't mean that rugby stops becoming one. This wouldn't be so difficult if it was during rugby season, because the reasons to stay in shape are clearly right in front of me during practices and games where I utilize what I'm building up. But the "off-season" (although in my rugby philosophy, this does not exist), it is sometimes harder to discipline yourself.
The other day I was thinking about why it is so important that I make sure I don't slow down my progress in training and make sure that I continue to push myself just as hard, and deep down I know there is no better reason I can think of than for my team. The reasons of working hard for rugby in order to stay in shape/lose weight or become a superstar just end up being so fickle. They absolutely do not last. Sure, they're great things that can also develop from training really hard, but no goal will push me more than the thought that I am helping my team. I want to get better for them so that I can contribute to my team, and any other team I may play on, as much as possible. As much as I always depend on my team to help me and back me up on the field, I want everyone else to rely just as much, if not more, on me too.
It also drives me up the wall that everyone who knew me in the past as being athletic in other sports still cannot grasp why I have completely transferred over to rugby. While playing softball last weekend with an old teammate, I heard a comment from her that I've heard so many times before that always drives me up the wall: "I'm just really shocked that you ended up not playing softball in college. I never really thought you could stop playing, especially since there were teams that wanted you to play for them." People keep talking like I "gave up" on my old sports and picked up rugby as a "runner up" to those sports. It's not that I didn't like my other sports any less, I just liked rugby more. Even tonight my dad asked me, "Do they have flag football at your school? How come you didn't decide to play that?" I didn't decide to do flag football because I WANTED TO DO RUGBY! Everyone keeps giving me these different options, asking me if I've heard of this league and that league and if I've ever played tennis or tried this sport. Some people have even asked me if I still plan on trying out for my school's softball team, or if I plan on looking for a different college that I can play softball at. What is everyone's problem with rugby?! The thing that drives me insane is that about 99% of these people have no idea what rugby is, no idea what they are talking about, and have never seen a rugby game in their lives. The thickness of these people's logic is almost unbearable.
And it really seems foreign to me that a person can see a rugby game or play a rugby game and not instantaneously fall in love with the sport and the culture. I always tell myself that the people who don't like rugby have just never seen or played it. But when someone has seen/played rugby and still doesn't like it...that person seems almost inhumane to me. I've come across some of these cases personally, but two really stick out in my mind. One was a guy who began going to practices but ended up with a cracked rib from being tackled. He immediately stopped going to practices and bitched forever (and still does) about the fact that his school doesn't have a football team. But the sports have a decent amount of similarities, especially in the things that many guys look for when picking a sport (aggressiveness, being able to hit people, etc...), that I can't imagine someone being sooo obsessed with one and not liking the other at all. And the things that rugby has seem to just make it an even better version of football! You don't have to stop after every single play, the fun goes on forever (sort of, ha ha)!! The other person played for a few months and then completely threw rugby out the window. I think he described an injury he got as well happening right before he quit, but I would have thought that the months of awesomeness in playing rugby that he experienced first would have prevailed! I gave the first case a teensy little benefit of the doubt, telling myself he was unfortunate to experience a serious injury so early in his rugby career and not being able to learn that these injuries are not common in rugby. But this second guy....has no excuse in my book. None. I just don't get it!! I also remember meeting a perfectly random stranger that came up to me and started talking about rugby when he saw my sweatshirt from the team. He called rugby "polite violence" which I think is hysterical and I love using it on a regular basis. But he told me that he played one game of rugby and then decided he would never play it again. For some reason I feel like he also had an injury story to go along with the ending of his rugby career, which makes me ponder about the percentage of people who experience an injury (broken bone, concussion, etc.) and never play rugby again. I sure as hell hope this number is not high because I hope that my rugby game is not hindered at all when I go back to playing after this injury of mine. Luckily I don't think I'll ever have to worry about not wanting to play after an injury; the only thing I have to worry about is if a day ever comes when I'm physically taken out of commission (KNOCK-ON-WOOD). And when my father came to watch me play for the all star team, I couldn't stop thinking about how all the confusion in his head over why I stopped pursuing my Division 1 softball opportunities for rugby would come to an end. I thought that once he saw me play, he would immediately realize what it is that I love to do so much. But his comment tonight really threw me off; I totally thought that he had comprehended why I love rugby so much. I thought the interrogations from him would be over because he finally witnessed the greatness of rugby right in front of his face.
I guess this all just sounds so weird to me because I never experienced the problem of developing a love for rugby; I literally liked rugby IMMEDIATELY. It took me absolutely no time to fall in love with the sport, and I kick myself every day thinking about how blind and oblivious and unknowing of rugby I was until college. Another part of my rugby philosophy is that I truly believe absolutely anyone can play rugby because the sport is so accepting of all people. So it's strange to me that the opportunity exists for everyone to play rugby, and that not everyone takes advantage of it...mind boggling!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care.

Woooooooooo, I literally almost blew major chunks after my 5 mile run today. I know normally that's not really something that people get excited about, but I obviously wasn't aiming at some sort of weight loss goal or something. The only reason why I feel a sense of excitement and relief at the same time when I feel like I'm literally going to throw up after running is because it is physical proof that I worked my hardest and pushed my body to its ultimate limit. Sometimes I have a really tough time being satisfied with my training and work in rugby, and I feel like I never ever do enough and that there is more I could be doing. But when I almost throw up, then there really is nothing more I could have done to make me reach that point, no matter what point that is. Whether or not it's the level I want to be at, it's either at the level I'm currently at or almost past it because my body is that exhausted. Before rugby season last year, I would actually go through with the throwing up and not stop running/training until I was almost like a necessity that I needed to check off before completing any training. But looking back on it I obviously realized how unhealthy that is (though once rugby season comes around again, that logic may not be there again and it may show back up on the check list...). I hope that I can keep pushing myself and not let myself fall off track. And I really hope that sooner or later I can convince myself that I am actually making progress and not behind like I always do. The only thing that I can do though is never give up!
Also my cast is officially off! In a strange way I'm going to slightly miss my highlighter yellow sleeve, but hence the SLIGHTLY. The doctor said that he could still see a crack in my wrist though, so I'm in a splint for at least two weeks. But this doctor doesn't know me...and he doesn't know that if it's removable I'm going to take it off and break every single rule given about wearing it. I already played softball with it on, which is a ton of wrist usage that I am sure I'm 100% not supposed to do, and if I had the time to do rugby I would have been on a rugby pitch directly after leaving the doctor's office. I'm pretty good I think at ignoring injuries and being super oblivious to their severity.
I also heard about a documentary existing that's about rugby in the United States.....WHAT?! How did this masterpiece of an idea of a film slip by me without me knowing about it?! It's called "A Giant Awakens, the Rise of American Rugby." Helloooooooo that sounds AWESOME! Already have it in my shopping cart at, and the minute I'm not broke or once school and rugby season starts up again (whichever comes first) I am buying it in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Zen of Rugby

The other day in a book store I found a series of little books titled "The Zen of....." and then a specific activity such as surfing, hiking, and mountain biking. Inside the books were little quotes of the peace and enjoyment people get out of doing the activity, and I immediately thought of how I could write an entire novel about the zen of rugby and the peace and enjoyment I get out of it. I started thinking of how I would describe the zen of rugby:

Rugby just makes you feel on top of the world. The high that you feel while running your hardest up the field to support a teammate, make a tackle, or run the ball is almost indescribable. Being on the field is like standing on a sacred battle ground, and you couldn't imagine being there with anyone else besides the other fourteen players that are standing by your side ready to aid you at any given moment. They're like your family, and as much as they look out for you, you can't imagine letting one of them do anything on the field alone. The reason why you are so close with these people on the field, no matter who they are, is because every single feeling and emotion that you feel on the field, the team feels. And the same goes the other way too, you feel everyone else's emotions on the field as well. Almost everything experienced on the field is experienced by all fifteen people at the same time. Making a good tackle is like tearing down a building by yourself. It's quite an accomplishment to be able to bring down such a big force charging right at you, but you only have a fraction of a split second to enjoy it before having to get back up and do it all over again and again and again. All these little successes in being a powerhouse tackler build up into a rush that makes you crave it. When you run the ball, you almost have to plug yourself in and radiate so much energy and force that no one can dare to stop you. Every person that runs at you in an attempt to bring you down and stop your progress is stopped in their tracks from your overpowering self confidence and quick thinking. You dodge left and right, and when someone manages to actually avoid your moves and get in your path, you just mow them down with force and keep on trucking. Rucking involves becoming a brick wall blocking the other team from getting what is rightfully yours, possession of the ball. You almost want to punish the other team's ruckers for even thinking that they can attempt to take the ball possession away from your team. You feel their force against you, but no matter; you dish it right back to them in bigger and better amounts. As much as you need to have the highest level of confidence and belief in yourself and your team, there is no time to underestimate and dismiss the opponent. They are just as strong if not stronger than you, but unfortunately for them you're just one step ahead. With this in mind though, going a step off even for a second can give your opponent an opportunity to run over you, so you must be absolutely 100% focused and hard working for the entirety of the game. Mistakes and errors don't matter as long as no time is wasted dwelling on them and self confidence isn't decreased...

Good God I need to stop myself or I really will write a whole novel! But with all the stress I've put on myself with this sport, I think I need to step back and really think about "the zen of rugby," and remember what it is about this sport that makes me love it so much and work as hard as I do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No regrets.

This cast has obviously been such a nuisance, even at the moment it is so uncomfortable and painful I can hardly sit here in bed with my sanity. But every single time I am bothered by my cast (which is A LOT), I ask myself, "Worth it? Still worth it?"

And every-single-time the answer is still yes.

Even though I've had to endure six weeks of awfulness with this cast on, I still would not take back the tackle I tried to make in the alumni game. And I think that's a really good thing, because if I regretted trying to make that tackle the slightest bit then when going back into rugby I may develop fear and hesitation for tackling in general. But on the contrary, you can put me in a body cast for life before I hesitate to make a tackle. I don't plan on backing down one bit after all of this is over :)

Sometimes I still replay the scene in my head, when I got schooled and everyone laughed at me and made fun of me for a while after the game for getting owned and trying to make a bad tackle. But why were they laughing? I'm not ashamed. I don't think it was something to make fun of someone about and be embarrassed about. I'm actually really proud of myself, I don't care how stupid I looked. I guess people can laugh at me getting plowed over by other people forever, but that won't change the fact that I'll still get back up and try 10000% to run head on at someone and tackle them.

Friday, June 4, 2010

All that work and what did it get me?

Merrrr today was not a very good day in terms of my attitude. I got pretty bad; I practiced my kicking today and it was all around not a pretty sight. It was a dismal two hours, but I think that I need to get all these unproductive, frustrating thoughts out of my head now and leave them behind. All I could think about while vigorously practicing my kicking by myself in an abandoned field was why all my effort seems to be getting me nowhere. I feel like I've worked my body down to the bone over and over again to have no improvement. My failures seem to be weighing out my successes and it's really frustrating. I can't stand it. It's so hard to constantly fail and still get back up and try again, if not harder, to fail ALL OVER AGAIN. When the hell is it my turn to do well (rhyme)?! Why hasn't any of my work paid off, while there are still people out there who are so much better than me with half the heart and love for the game that I have and who don't work even close to as hard at it than I do?! Am I just not a natural rugby player?! Should I not be here?! Is this not my thing?! Am I wasting my time?! Giving my every ounce of effort seems to be not enough. I feel like I haven't accomplished anything!!!

who cares.

I don't care if I never become an exceptional player or never become MVP or never even get to play scrumhalf. I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever quit in rugby. Not for a single second. I will always get back up and try again. Whatever the outcome, no matter how good or bad, I will always always always give every drop of effort I possibly can. It doesn't matter if in the end I still suck and I get no reward or recognition for my hard work, it's just not like me to give up. It's what I've based my life off of, the idea that you can achieve any goal with absolute hard work, determination, and heart. I know that in rugby I have an infinite amount of all three of those traits, so I cannot give up on myself or stop believing in myself. I know for a fact that I absolutely LOVE rugby more than almost anyone, and I cannot live without it. That's what will carry me so much farther, because I will never be able to stop trying. It's so hypocritical for me to say that if you don't believe in yourself while playing rugby you can almost never succeed and then not fully believe in myself. And that's what I absolutely love about rugby; when you get that ball in your hands, and when someone is charging at you, you almost have to think of yourself as being like Godzilla and not letting anyone get in your way. You have to crush everything in your path. I need that mentality; I need that fire in my eyes. I know that I have a flame inside me in the form of passion for the game and the desire to compete and play well, but I need almost that mean, evil fire. It's not really mean or evil, but I just need to absolutely plow through people without hesitation. GAR I'll get there someday, I know so. I think I'm close, I can almost feel it in my grasp. UGH I just CAN'T give up, not now and not ever. Sooner or later I'll come out of my shell and dominate, God knows when the hell that day is but my time to succeed will come...........all I can do is hope so, and fail a million times over and over until I finally succeed.