Thursday, October 27, 2011

2011 Rugby World Cup

What-a-GAME!!!! I am SO happy that I got the chance to catch the end of the rugby world cup, but I wish I had the chance to see more of it from the beginning stages. I'm really amazed with the amount of picks and gos both teams use consecutively throughout play, and the way that New Zealand won was truly inspirational. Not only did a 30 year old prop score their only try, but a substitute player who had NEVER PLAYED IN THE WORLD CUP BEFORE THAT MOMENT made the kick by a sliver to give them the win by a point. And I have never in all the time that I have witnessed and played rugby ever seen a try scored off of a line out by a prop: they threw a line out to the back pod, which off loaded it out to a prop that was running full speed through the two pods and basically ran the ball like a banger into the try zone! Genius! That seriously just goes to show how amazing of a team New Zealand truly is: not only were they able to utilize their oldest player and one that doesn't normally get opportunities to score a try, but someone fresh off the bench was able to pull through in the clutch moment of that kick. They must have immense depth on their team and appreciate every single person that is on it, no matter how much playing time they get.
But France also put up a fierce opposition at the same time; I was looking back at all the scores throughout the world cup and it is amazing that they only lost to New Zealand by one point! The last time France played New Zealand they lost 37-17, so losing 8-7 is a tremendous improvement to say the least. Not only did they lose by fewer points, but in general they made New Zealand score fewer points which is another accomplishment in itself. The try they did score was well earned and late in the game, so they never stopped putting up a fight. Also, their defense was phenomenal, which is shown in the low scoring game.

I'm so happy that the world cup final was just as amazing and phenomenal as it should have been! I'm sad that I have to wait until 2015 for the next one, but I'm sure I'll be looking back on this game over and over for inspiration and learning purposes. Anyone who didn't see it should make an effort to watch the whole thing, because it was so exciting from beginning to end. And they have some sweet videos of the top 5 hits and the top 5 trys, both of which the United States made it into!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Strength and honor.

I've been so enthralled with rugby season that I didn't even get a chance to write about it at all. I better go into detail, since this was my last fall college rugby season...which I can barely even type out without feeling a deep pang in my heart.

So the rookies on the team surpassed all of my wildest expectations; I think that throwing them into responsibilities and pressures of starting and playing A-side forced them to grow as players quicker. Every single one of the them improved tenfold by the end of the season.

As a team, we bonded so quickly and wonderfully that we learned how to play around each other more and more as the season progressed. In our second game, we actually started off winning and putting up such an incredible battle. We stopped them at their tri zone a dozen times, and I literally held up two of their tries. But then by the time the second half rolled around, we started to die off. We had some serious injuries on some major starters, and it made an impact on the field. Personally, about three quarters into the game, I blatantly heard my collarbone crack when I tackled a girl at least twice my size and my mind flashed back to last fall when I broke it. My left arm was completely immobilized, and not only was I throwing passes and bangers with one arm but I was also TACKLING with one arm (which actually worked, surprisingly).

After that scare, I put my good ol' figure eight brace back on and slept with it on. But when I took it off, my left shoulder BLEW UP LIKE A BLIMP. It was HUGE, and apparently it was because I took the brace off (similar to why I guess you don't take someone's shoe off when they sprain or break their ankle). So I continued with the ice and put the brace back on, not telling anyone about what was happening. Luckily the swelling went down, I overdosed on ibuprofen a bajillion times, and I didn't miss a single practice or game throughout the whole process. But, I'm not gonna lie.....I was spooked. I started suffering from a little hesitation in my tackling.

Then our homecoming game came, and my mother and sister actually got to see me play!!! I got my collarbone taped, which still drew my shoulders back like a marionette puppet and stifled some of my mobility. It was a lot tougher to run/breathe and move my arms, so I kind of had to work around a little of a handicap. But, I'd rather play rugby with a handicap than not play at all! I was so grateful that I got to play for my mom and sister because I was nervous for a little while that I wasn't going to be able to. We lost once again, but apparently this was the first place team that absolutely crushed every team they played while they only beat us by 17 points. Our rookies continued to dominate on the field, and even my mom said she "enjoyed watching me play rugby more than she thought she would" and liked seeing me direct the team. That was better than any sort of win for me.

Next was our second to last game that showed even more improvement. To be honest, we really could have won that game if we had a better referee; he took away two tries that I scored from crappy calls and that would have made us win. But I don't like blaming losses on things like that. It was a fun game to play because it was so close, and what I was proud of the most was how the team worked so incredibly well together. My tackling was getting less and less hesitant, and I'll never forget how nervous I was to approach a one on one situation against one of the absolute biggest girls I've ever seen in my life and still take her down. my last game to ever be played for my college team in a fall season.....we WON. We ACTUALLY WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was the best feeling ever; everyone on the team earned the win together and I couldn't have asked for anything more for the perfect ending to my fall college rugby career. Our improvement was tremendous, and I honestly think we won that game because of how much love we all have for each other on this team and how incredibly connected we are. I don't think there's been another time where I've kept an incessantly huge grin on my face for that long, and I'm a person that smiles at least 90% of every day so that says a lot.

I'm still in denial about it all being over, so I'm working on getting a few scrimmages for the team to play before everything turns into an icicle. Still running, still pushing, and still believing that I'm gonna play rugby until.....hell freezes over. And even then, I'll still play Winterfest - HA!

I don't know if I could do rugby justice right now and give it the thank you it deserves, but thank you rugby on so many different levels:
Thank you rugby for giving me a voice I never even knew I had. Thank you for giving me a bulletproof reason to smile in the morning and think "It's a good day because I get to play rugby today." Thank you for the array of gorgeous bruises you have given me, and for actually forcing me to sit back and smell the roses because I literally can't move from incredibly sore muscles. Thank you for letting me get to know some of the most amazing people I have ever encountered, and for making my family grow at least four times in size. Thank you for making me realize my own inner physical and mental strength, when all I've ever been able to call myself is a kiss ass. Thank you for the wonderful sense of power and confidence I feel every time I have the privilege of tackling someone to the ground or breaking away from someone else's tackle. Thank you for teaching me to never give up, and to always get back up and sprint full speed ahead without looking back when I fall. Thank you for giving me the wonderful rugby filled life I have now.

So much love in my heart.