Rugby and I

Posted by: Andrew
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I’m in pain. Specifically, some part of my shoulder is in pain. Where exactly is still to be determined. I’m unfortunately now typing this with one arm tightly held to my side so that I look like a T-Rex. To explain why I’m in pain I need to start at the beginning.

A London Business School alumnus emailed me a few months before I started and said the following, “You should probably consider joining the Men’s Rugby Team. They hold all the power around campus, and it’s good to be a member, even socially. They will no doubt advise you on all sorts of important things such as technique for beer drinking (a critical skill for Rugby Pub Golf) and the like.” The use of the words ‘should probably consider’ is misleading because having read this I didn’t really consider there to be a choice. I was going to play rugby.

The unfortunate problem is I wasn’t built to play rugby. I was built to run away and hide from guys who are built to play rugby. Two years of rugby in high school left me with a series of concussions, a stern warning from the doctor not to go near the sport again, and a realisation that my head was not suited to the sport. Countless sprains and pulls from various other sports left me with the nickname of ‘gimpy’ (slang for someone with physical limitations) and a realisation that the rest of my body was not suited to the sport.

Fast forward to one month ago and there I am on the field playing rugby. Fortunately the first month is non-contact so that everyone gets to figure out how the play the game first. And what a confusing game it is. Supposed to have originated in 1823 when a student at Rugby School in England picked up a football (soccer) ball instead of kicking it and ran with it. From there it seems that they have tried to do the opposite of all other team sports. Pass forward? Nope, only back. Stop play after tackles? Nope, run over the top of the tackled player and keep going. Points scored for entering the end zone? Nope, must touch the ball down. The list goes on.

Fast forward another month and tackling begins. At this point the original 70 people at the training sessions are now whittled down to about 30. It’s all the guys who are built to play rugby…and me. Given my small frame the only way I can take these guys down is with momentum. This means recklessly throwing my body at them in the hopes that they’ll fall. During Friday’s training session I did just that and am now in pain.

The point of this is to highlight that I’m in an environment where I’m pushed to take risks and to make mistakes because those ultimately will be the greatest learning opportunities. I took the risk and played and I’m learning from that mistake. For now, I’ll stick to being a social member; fortunately, you don’t need to be built to play rugby to still enjoy a pint.

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