Rugby – Day 57
For the first time in my challenge, I was late. The margin of error with carting 3 children around to their various pursuits is very fine and the coordinated drop off/pick up with my father went wrong, which meant I turned up 15 minutes late to rugby. The girls were already warmed up and performing a drill, so I made a quick introduction to Ann, who I had spoken to on email and joined straight in.
This flurry of panic and urgency had ensured that I didn’t have the time to consider the potential pitfalls of the sport I was just about to try. If I had allowed myself the time to reflect on rugby, I would have felt pure apprehension and dread of being potentially tackled and thrown into a muddy bog. So, all in all, it was probably a good thing.
I was delighted to find there were a few newbies joining the session. I am always comforted to find fellow clueless people, as I don’t stick out as much. After a fairly taxing routine of running in circles, changing direction at speed and picking up the ball and repeating, we moved on to a game of touch rugby. The coach told us we could pass in any direction, forward or back but we would have had to have passed the ball at least three times to score a try.
It was four v four as we lined up against each other. I knew what my strategy would be, as it has served me well in previous sports such as handball and football: the old hot potato (HP) technique. In these situations, I like to be in charge of a ball for no longer than 2 seconds; anything more and a defender is all over you. This then incites me to panic, which is usually accompanied by my pterodactyl scream but ultimately it ends with me losing the ball. Not great for team sports.
The game began and my HP technique was deployed. I must try to develop this technique to ensure somebody is actually there when I throw the ball, as I repeatedly offloaded into thin air. Another problem I found was that when I got the ball, it felt like netball, so I stayed rooted to the spot and looked to immediately pass. What I needed to do was run with the ball. This was harder than it sounded as I kept getting tagged by the opposition.
One girl, who seemed very good, would receive the ball and dodging outstretched limbs, darted to the other side. I decided to try it. After several aborted efforts, I caught the ball and made my way through a slither of space and triumphantly put the ball on the ground. That felt really exhilarating, if not unnatural. We then progressed the game to passing only backwards and this is where it kind of fell apart for me, as I found it very confusing to not run to a space for a pass. When I did receive a ball, I would run as far as I could and then pass behind, then carry on running ahead, before I checked myself and ran backwards. I think that would take a while to actually master.
Training ended with another passing drill, and I was relieved to get through the session without ending up face first into the quagmire we had made. Although, thankfully, we hadn’t practised tackling, I found the session physically demanding, as we barely stopped running. I must have enjoyed it as I wasn’t even bitter about running around in the mud in the pouring rain on a Friday night and not being in the warm, having a glass of end of week wine.
As we stood for photos, the girls were quite shocked to hear about why I was there and that I wasn’t coming back. That is the thing I love about team sports; you are automatically accepted into the group. Usually, I have time in the beginning to introduce myself, so I apologised if they felt deceived but no, I wouldn’t be back next week - God knows what I will be doing in a week. Last Friday night I was cheerleading and this week I was playing the polar-opposite sport of rugby, so who knows what next week will bring?
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