Rugby season started this week. That means my fiancé will be at rugby practice twice a week and playing games a couple times a week now. Some women might complain about that, but last night I was looking at the nice spring evening we were having and almost wishing that I could be out there running too.
I didn’t even know what rugby was until about two years ago. While in Australia, I met some Americans who had never heard of Canadian football teams. So I sent an email to a friend (now my fiancé), asking, “Don’t we play in the NFL?” In answering that, he also discussed rugby. Trying to show some interest in something he loved, I asked what position he played. I’m sure his email description was a good description, but for a girl who’d never seen a rugby game and had no idea what he was talking about… well, I didn’t get it.
A few months later, I was back in Canada and he was playing his last game of the year. I finished my Saturday morning course and drove over to the rugby park to watch. He was warming up on the sidelines, and tried to explain the game to me. At halftime, he got called in to play, and I spent the rest of game alternating between watching him and watching the ball, and trying to figure out what on earth was going on. After the game, I asked him, “Who won?” He answered, “We did! We hammered them!”
We walked over to watch another rugby game on an adjoining field, and he kept trying to explain the game to me, though I never admitted that I had no idea what a scrum or a ruck was so most of his explanations were going right over my head. Soon after that we started dating, and when touch rugby started up at the university, he wanted me to play. I watched one game and thought it looked like fun, so I jumped in on the next game. We ran. Hard. For two hours. Chasing a ball. Tagging each other. Kicking. Catching. Passing. It was fun.
The next summer I was at the clubhouse to try the real game. We jumped into the twice-a-week practices, running drills and playing touch. I now knew the rugby terms and was figuring out what all the positions were. Then we had an out-of-town game. I showed up just to watch, since I’d only been at practice for a month, but we didn’t have enough girls to play, so I got pulled into the game. There were new girls on both teams, and we borrowed girls from the other team to fill our team. I had a quick lesson on being in the front row before the game, and then the game was on. We ran hard. We had fun. And we hammered the other team.
But after that, I didn’t play again. Partly because by then I was flat broke after not working for a year and a half, so I couldn’t afford to buy cleats and pay the club dues. Partly because I was busy with other things and burning myself out. Partly because my fiancé injured himself in his game and couldn’t play for the rest of the summer. But more because I realized I didn’t like the rugby culture. I didn’t fit in, when all the girls got off the field and grabbed their beers and started talking about sex and drinking and tattoos. I didn’t like beer, and I had nothing to contribute to the conversations. Some of the girls were friendly, willing to coach a newcomer, and fun to hang out with; others were cliquish, sticking with their friends, hardcore rugby fans who played to win.
So this summer, while he’s off at rugby practice, I’ll work on my writing or scrapbooking. I’ll come to his games to cheer him on, and since I know the game now, I’ll be screaming loud. It’s rugby season again.