Rugby, it seemed like a good idea

Posted on July 10, 2010

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Rugby Tackle

This post was inspired by @shellykramer who happened to mention on facebook that she liked rugby.  It reminded me of an email that I had sent to some friends @ginidietrich @katjaib and @aakomas about one of those moments in life when you get an idea, that at the time seems like a good idea, and then suddenly in the middle of it, you realize was a really bad idea.  The problem is when you realize what a bad idea it is, well, it is too late.

I love football.  I mean, I really love football.  Those of you who have read some of my stories have realized how much I love football. I mean, I study the game films.  I love the strategy.  I love the working as hard as you can to get in the best shape and then seeing if that was good enough.  I love the game plan, I love the improv when the game plan goes awry.  I love the physicality, I love the emotion, I love the mental aspect.  I want to play the game. I was meant to
play the game…except God, the universe, made me 5 feet tall and 90 lbs if I’m lucky.  Life is so unfair because I was meant to play this game.

One evening I was making dinner (I love to cook) and suddenly I heard on the local news channel that a KC womens rugby team had tryouts that following Weds evening.  Suddenly it had all of my attention. Rugby.  That was close to football.  Ok, maybe not quite, but close enough for this football addict. I tripped over dogs, cats to make it to the television in order to catch the details like date, time, location.  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was.
Competition, football (ok close enough, rugby).  I grabbed a pen and wrote down the info.  I could hardly sleep that night.  Tryouts were that Weds and by god, I was going to make this team and compete. Yes, I had forgotten that I was 5 feet tall and 90 lbs dripping wet.

That Weds evening I wrapped up work projects, changed clothes in the bathroom putting on shorts, t-shirt, sweatshirt, sweatbands, headband…and looking quite the jock…or so I thought.  I glanced at the address and figured out how to get to the field.  I had butterflies in my stomach, excitement at being able to play football…ok, you are right, rugby.  Same thing.

I found a parking spot and glanced out at the field.  This can’t be right, I thought.  These are men.  I stared out at very big people…did I say big?  Yes, big.  I glanced back down at the paper I was holding.  No, that’s right.  I’m in the right spot.  I looked back up.  Geezus, these people were very big.  That’s okay I thought.  I’m very quick.  I’m quicker than they are I’m sure.  Fine, afraid was the reality, which makes me run fast.  I stepped out of the car and walked over to a woman who looked coach-like.  She was holding a whistle, a clipboard and looking like my junior high gym teacher who I had been terrified of.

“Hey there,” I said in as friendly a tone I could muster in my now terrified state.

A glare from her my way made me feel even more insecure.  “Yes,” she said.

I glanced out onto the field at the women who looked like they could kick my ass. 

“I’m here to try out,” I said..watching her look me up and down disapprovingly.

“Really,” was all she said.

“Yeah,” I said, putting my shoulders back and chest out high even though I had this sinking suspicion of dread that I was going to need far more health insurance than I had.

“Okay,” she said with a tone that did not bode confidence.

Within moments I was running sprints and catching balls.  At my size, I was a back.  I was happy I got that assignment as that was the position I wanted. Things were going fairly well (okay, to be honest I was not used to the odd shaped ball, but working on it) until we got to the tackle drills.  Now I did know a little about rugby before this bad idea of trying out, I just didn’t realize that tackle meant pain.  Okay, I was a little naive.  So, we did a drill.  A very big, muscular, strong woman playing defense against me (I did mention I was 90 lbs?).  The ball was tossed to me…as I caught the ball I eyed the very big woman heading my way.  No worries was the thought fleeting through my mind.  I’m smaller, quicker…all it will take is a little juke, a fake move one way, then with my speed she can’t touch me.  Or so I hoped.

Yeah.  As she approached me with surprising speed for her size, I shifted my hips left and then couldn’t breath.  Her shoulder nailed me right in my rib cage.  My feet and head met somewhere on the way to the ground.  I’m thinking I hit the earth’s core shortly after as the weight of her body drove me into the hard dirt.  I tried to catch a breath, but at that point, pronounced myself dead.  All I could think was Mom is going to kill me.

As I lay there attempting to breath with my eyes closed, I heard a voice from above me.

“I think I killed her coach.  She’s not moving.”

I opened my eyes to see a circle of concerned big women staring down at me.  The coach knelt down.

“Are you okay,” she asked.

Finally I could take a painful breath.  “Uh, yeah.  I’m okay.  Really. Great tackle,” I said weakly as I brought myself up slowly to a seated position.  The circle of women stepped back still staring at me as I felt my ribs.  All I could think is Mom is going to kill me when I try to explain why my ribs were broken playing rugby.  The coach stood up, reached her hand out and helped pull me to my feet.  I can’t even to begin to describe the pain.  My back, my stomach, my ribs, my neck, my butt…well, basically my entire body.

“Thanks,” I mustered.  “I think I’m going to go grab my water bottle from my car.  I’ll be back shortly.”

The coach and team stared at me.  “Really, you are okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.” I nodded my head.  “Really, I’m okay.”

The reality is I wasn’t sure if that was true.  The way my body felt right then made me doubt I was.  Slowly I made my way to the car and climbed in.  I wasn’t going to go back.  This was truly a bad idea and I was going to pay for it for awhile.

The next morning I visited my doctor.  After he stopped laughing and wiped the tears from his eyes, I was x-rayed.  No broken ribs or other broken bones.  I never played rugby again.

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Posted in: Rugby, Sports