Never in a million years would I have thought I would get an opportunity to play in this tournament....BUT I HAVE. It's all thanks to a ye olde teammate from college who offered me a chance to fill in as a player on her team in a random tournament. When I randomly went back to the ol' college stomping grounds to pay everyone a visit for a weekend, immediately I started texting around to people that I knew were still playing rugby. I wanted to see if anyone was playing so that I could be a spectator (with the deep alternative motive that they may need another player), and my prayers were answered! My friend told me she was playing in a tournament that really needed players immediately, so the minute I stepped off the plane into the airport I started making plans, finding cleats and shorts I could borrow, and wound up road tripping with a brand new team to a tournament!
The weekend was GREAT; I was so grateful to jump right back into rugby again and surround myself with amazing and friendly ruggers. They were all so welcoming and it was like I had already known them for years (well, obviously I had already known my friend for years and a few others but everyone else was brand new to me)! It was also quite a shell shock to realize how OUT OF SHAPE I WAS - obviously I had no idea I was going to be walking into a rugby tournament so I didn't prepare in any way, shape, or form. But I will admit that about the first 5 minutes of playing was like getting socked in the stomach multiple times in a row. When we stopped for our first scrum, it took every bone, organ, and piece of mental strength to keep myself from throwing up...HAHA. Of course I still loved every second of it, and never wanted to sub out no matter how tired I was, but it was also a really great wake up call - stay top notch fit at all times juuuuuust in case I randomly get picked up again to play rugby!
Ideally I would be able to play rugby full time on a team just like the old days, making rugby on par with a full time job, but at this point in my life I have come to accept that I just don't have that luxury. I'm young with a gargantuan stock of bills, and it's not exactly the easiest thing in the world to find a job these days. It's quite a split argument about what I should do, because other people would argue that NOW is the time to get all the rugby playing in that I can while I'm still a spring chicken, but I need to fulfill short term and long term (bills, job experience.....adult shit.) needs right now. So I guess this is a happy medium :)
It's going to be tough to train for this, especially since my social worker job drains about 90% of my energy every day. I get home from work at about 11pm (at the absolute earliest) and struggle to barely wake up before I have to leave for work all over again. But luckily I've been finding little ways to incorporate training into a busy and exhausting schedule, such as the Insanity work outs. I bought the set on ebay just for the heck of it, but Shaun T scared the shit out of me on the front cover so I never picked it up. But the workouts are no longer than 45 minutes usually so they're quick but pack a MAJOR punch....great muscle building and agility exercises. Obviously I can't rely only on that as enough fitness for the tournament, but at least it's enough for me to get something in on a daily basis and then be able to dedicate more time and energy to running and actual skill work on my weekends. Either way it's not going to be easy....but rugby isn't about easy. At all.
As Tom Hanks said in the movie A League of Their Own, "It's SUPPOSED to be hard, otherwise everyone would do it."
And SOOOO it begins again. I couldn't be happier. It was also amazing/fate that I went back to rugby on the rainiest and messiest day I could've picked. It's pretty awesome to start the whole routine again of getting to know a new team and coach; while it's cool to already have a team that is on par with my family in importance and always easy to play with, I love learning a whole new way of playing from new teams. At the same time though, it can be a bit intimidating to play on a new team, especially with one that is already so comfortable with one another. But I like the challenge of somehow meshing into their already stellar line up of a rugby team.
The coach on this team is simply AMAZING. He he has been a part of the Kenya Rugby Union....and BOY DOES HE KNOW HIS STUFF. When I showed up to this practice, we did a little bit of running and stretching as a team, and then he just said "count off." After that....it was OFF TO THE RACES. We just played and played and played and played and played and played and played and played and played and played some more. He stopped the playing a couple of times to assess a few things he was seeing, which was always insightful, but he never kept us waiting long.
Something that I liked which he addressed was the relationship between passing and high stress in a game situation; when you run into a highly stressful/fast paced moment in a game, people's passes usually become worse. That makes sense since when you're starting to get anxious you're more likely to throw away the ball in a heartbeat without thinking as much about where it's going. But it's good to know that when you are faced in those types of situations (which is obviously A LOT...like every 5 seconds, ha ha) your skill level goes up. I think the more you experience and handle those scenarios the more you become comfortable with them and can maneuver through it the right way...which is ALSO another reason why it is so critical to practice how you play. Rugby seems to be a lot about gaining a level of comfort when your surrounded by chaos.
Although as of right now I'm only playing rugby once or twice a week, hopefully in the near future that number will go up. And I'll take ANY kind of rugby on a regular basis. At least when my weeks get crazy, I can know that I am guaranteed at least one day out of my week to let it all out and be in complete bliss.
This. is. an absolutely AMAZING rugby movie. I randomly watched it while running on a treadmill once and I was screaming and cheering until I practically fell off!!!! And the best news: IT'S FREE ON NETFLIX SO YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES NOT TO WATCH IT. If you don't have Netflix, ask your dentist, your creepy neighbor, your best friend's dog.....I bet you know SOMEBODY that has Netflix and could log you on.
It's about this rugger from Scotland who thinks he's the shit at rugby but is an AWFUL team player. Because of this, he breakes a record but does so at the expense of his own team...which causes him to be shat on by all of Scotland. He's so huffy puffy and full of himself that he thinks he can walk into the U.S. and just become an NFL player in a heartbeat. He obviously DOESN'T become one, and instead joins this shitshow little rinkydink local rugby team that teaches him how to REALLY be a rugby player - by working hard, caring about your teammates, and KICKING BUTT.
My favorite line from it is when the Scottish lad skips practice to go to the local bar and drink becuase he's depressed, and one of the local ruggers comes up to him and says - "The drill is FIRST practice THEN beers and burgers."
It had pretty been a year since I had hit someone and been pummelled to the ground by someone else. GOD DAMN IT FELT GOOD. Although that was far too long to go without playing rugby, it's refreshing to know that you can completely hop back into it at any time. Rugby is definitely in your soul, and something that will never go away if you don't let it.
It was so amazing to see the ruggers that I started playing with, that played before me, that play now, and that have just started playing. I kept thinking in my head over and over and people kept saying to me that "it's like nothing ever changed." I hope it stays like that forever, and I'm pretty sure it will. I waltzed back into the place I was first introduced to rugby like I had never left, and everyone else did the same. We all played like we just had a million seasons together and had been practicing tirelessly beforehand. YOU JUST CAN'T TEACH THAT! No matter how many times a team practices and plays together, you just can't teach that bond. It's such a gift and the reason why our team has had so many eras of success.
With that being said, rugby HAS to become more of a regular routine for me. I can't stand having rugby be sporatic for me, and something I can do "once in a while." While running a marathon definitely gave me a high and involved so much self fulfillment, my ridiculously small achilles tendons cannot keep up with it after being through physical therapy twice and almost surgery. Rugby just doesn't JUDGE (so Chris Brown would probably like it....HAH) no matter who you are, what you do, what you look like, or how many times you shower in a week.
I'm glad that today I'll finally be starting to go to rugby at least once a week on Thusdays for my city's women's rugby team. The word AT LEAST is a major one in this sense. I have the most psychotic work schedule in the whole wide world right now thanks to AmeriCorps, but hopefully once I get a steady full time job with NORMAL hours my rugby time should increase tenfold.