Lessons from Rugby

In the first semester of my freshmen year, I was desperate to find anywhere to fit in. I was in a major that I felt I wasn’t cut out for, playing a sport I fell out of love with, and felt a desperate craving for change. I could sum up my freshman-self in one word: lost. It wasn’t until during a night biology lab that I found the answer: rugby. A girl in my lab group was on the board of the rugby club and suggested I attend a practice or two after she listened to my rants of boredom. I can’t thank her enough for leading me towards my favorite sport.

I attended my first practice a few days later, and to my surprise it was a conditioning practice. I spent the practice doing burpees, ladder footwork, and ab workouts out the wazoo. Finally, practice ended with the players pushing the coach’s truck for about 100 yards. The coach was terrified that I would never come back. What kind of crazy person would push a truck during their first practice and enjoy it?! To my coach’s astonishment, I came back. And I kept coming back week after week after week. I was in love with the sport. I love the physicality and the powerful strength of rugby. To this day, my coach still brings up that practice to me every once in a while. I use that memory as a reminder of the strength I have when I don’t think I can make it through a practice or a game.

Rugby has taught me how to be a stronger woman. I have been hit by girls twice my size and gotten up without a second thought. I have practiced and played in blistering heat, and pouring rain and snow. I’ve been stepped on, kicked, and for lack of better term “yeet”ed to the ground, and even though my parents hate watching it, I would never quit because of those scrapes and bruises. I’ve learned how to push myself harder when there are 20 minutes left in the game and blood running down my knees. I’ve learned to keep pumping my legs even when it becomes hard and my quads are filled with fatigue. I’ve realized that my body is so much stronger than I ever imagined it to be, but I never would have realized that if I never played rugby.

Rugby has taught me the value of hard work. I was by no means a great rugby player when I began playing. My passes were inaccurate, my form was so-so, and I couldn’t remember which way to point my feet after being tackled. Before rugby, I was the kind of person to quit something if I knew I wasn’t good at it. However, rugby was the one thing that I knew I didn’t want to quit. After a season of determination and hard work, I was awarded “Most Improved” for my freshman season. I was awarded this again for my junior season because I refused to let myself plateau, and I keep pushing myself to work hard. Because of this, I was given the position of captain for my senior season. I can’t wait to push my girls to work just as hard as I did and watch them improve and grow.

Rugby instilled the value of teamwork in me. In rugby, it is impossible to do anything without a team behind you. Passing, tackling, and even break- aways require the support of a team to be truly successful. I always considered myself too independent of a woman to ask for help. Rugby taught me that we need people to support us in our lives even during little things. I’ve never been on a team that was a family to me. My rugby girls have become just that to me. Through everything I’ve gone through during my time at SVC, I always knew that I could count on my team to pick me up when I’m down (both after tackles and hardships).

Rugby taught me never to give up. My team has played DI schools and nationally ranked teams. Although those teams may have scored on us quite a few times, my girls always keep playing and giving it their all. I notice this determination especially in my freshmen girls this year. After a team scored on us during our last game, a freshman came up to me and said, “I tackled a girl! I want to do it again!” And truthfully, that sentence summarized what a rugby player’s attitude should be on the field. Even when you’re losing, you should be focusing on the positives. You can’t win every game, but you won’t win a game if you give up. Rugby is more than just a sport to me. It is something that completely changed me as a person, taught me valuable life lessons, and brought me to a group of women that I admire and appreciate.