I’m living a life immersed in rugby right now. I’m the head coach for the Kingwood High School club. I’m working with some other folks to get a youth program started. I’m playing for Woodlands RFC, and I’m still supporting Baylor Rugby wherever possible (website, fundraising, etc.). Heck, I even applied for a job with USA Rugby.
None of those feel like a job, though, because of the love I have for this sport and the people surrounding it.
When I found rugby in 1998, I had no idea what it was. A friend of a friend had been trying to get me out for a few months, when I finally decided to go have a run. I never looked back. In the 17 years following that practice, rarely have I passed up an opportunity to spend time on a rugby pitch.
This sport is like no other, and I’ve played a lot of different sports. The respect the players have for each other, the referee (the Sir), and the fans is what sets this game apart. Fans sit together, sing together, and show respect for great play by the other team. Players who beat the snot out of each other for 80 minutes are also the first to console the losing team, cheer them off the pitch, and buy them a round at the pub. Don’t get me wrong, it is as competitive as sport gets. It’s just a different atmosphere and culture that is enforced by the entire community – everyone involved in a match.
It’s an international community. I can walk onto any rugby pitch in the world and feel comfortable throwing on the boots and having a run with that team. I think this culture exists because it was an amateur sport for so long, and thus not corrupted by money. I hope it stays that way as professional rugby grows.
I’ve traveled to places I never would have thought of going to thanks to rugby, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next. I’ve experienced extreme highs and lows. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The friendships I’ve made; the brothers I’ve added to my family; the coaches who have helped me learn life and leadership skills; the experiences I’ve had; all are irreplaceable.
If you’ve never experienced rugby, find your local club or youth program and get to a match. It’s amazing. Oh, and it won’t take four hours. We play 80 minutes. No timeouts. Just sport.
Thank you, rugby.
This is #2 in my 20 Things I’m Thankful For Series.