While most teenage boys were out chasing panties and smoking up, I was on the field tackling, hitting, and banging guys. Wait… that didn’t come out right. Let me rephrase. I would go to the field every single day, rain or shine to play rugby. The beautiful, brutal, bruising game of rugby. Most people tend to pick up sports during high school and drop it as soon as they join college. It sort of became the norm. But not for me. I couldn’t let go of playing rugby no matter what anyone said. Why?
Rugby changed my life.
Backstory time. I grew up as a social outcast. Never belonging anywhere. Not at home, not in school, nowhere. I didn’t have any friends. In primary school, I was the target of bullies (it’s always easy to bully the fat kid). I picked up football in an attempt to fit in but being mediocre didn’t help. I started to distance myself from people and just kept to my own devices (quite literally. Couldn’t get off my GameBoy).
Come high school, it got better. I made some friends and still played football in hopes that by some miracle, I’d get better and fit in (I obviously didn’t). My whole life, I’ve always doubted myself. Then one day, when I was 16, the school rugby team started looking for new players.
I was wary about it at first but after my friends joined (one of them was only 5’2 tall), I decided that there wasn’t any reason I shouldn’t join. In the end, I tried out for the team and got into the starting team. There was no going back from then on. There’s a saying that goes:
My days and nights from then on were spent training on the field and watching professional games to improve my skills. Come hell or high water, my friends and I would find a way to play. Practising our rucks, passing, tackling, scrums, line-outs, and positioning. I was even appointed as pack leader of the forwards.
You might be thinking, “What the fuck is this guy saying? Rucks, scrums, WHAT?!”. I’ll get to that in a bit. Some of you might say, “No way a 5’2 guy can play rugby.” Why the fuck not? The beautiful thing about rugby is, anybody can play. Height, weight, gender, and status don’t mean shit on the field. My 5’2 friend could bring me to the ground and I’m 6 feet tall and weighed 120 kg (at the time).
So If Anyone Tells You That You Can’t Play Rugby, That’s A Pile Of Horse Shit.
Being small doesn’t mean you can’t play. The New Zealand All Blacks have a few players who are only 5’10. Japan has a 5’4 player and they still managed to bring down the giants of the South African Springboks in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. People always think you need to be big and tall but that’s not the case at all. (Union) Rugby teams consist of 15 players which are then split into 2 groups. The forwards, and the back-lines. The forwards are the big, bulky guys whose job is to hit, scrum, and maul through opponents.
The back-lines are the smaller, more agile players who carry out set pieces and make runs (often including fancy footwork).
The goal of the game is to break through the opponents’ defence and ground the ball in the try zone (much like a touchdown zone).
And unlike most sports, you can only pass the ball backwards in rugby. Passing it forward will result in a scrum, possibly the most iconic thing in rugby. Here’s what a solid scrum can do.
FUN FACT: The Guy At The Front Middle Of The Scrum Is Called A Hooker.
A lot of people say we’re crazy to be playing this body busting game. We don’t have pads and helmets like in American football. Concussions, dislocated limbs, and blood are everyday things. When I was 17, I had a slipped disk and also tore my right ankle. The doctor said that I’d never be able to play rugby ever again. But that didn’t stop me. I trained harder than ever to make sure I could still feel that fire within me every time I stepped on the field. Why would I go to such lengths? Easy.
Playing rugby has taught me how to push my limits and to believe in myself a little more. I’d say I’ve come a long fucking way from being just a lonely fat kid who got bullied all the time for being socially awkward.
It was through rugby that I found my spirit, my warrior spirit. The Maoris call it “Mana”. A demonstration of Mana would be the Haka, a traditional Maori war dance that the Kiwis perform before every match. Play it loud and feel the chills.
All Blacks Haka – Kapa O Pango
In conclusion, rugby is amazing as fuck. I mean, it’s the only sport where grown men wear short shorts, perform a dance routine, and still look fucking scary.
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…or the author.