This has been my third year playing for my college’s women’s rugby team. In that time, I have gone from rookie, to prop, to veteran, to lock, to playing any scrum position, to vice president and forward captain. Though it may sound like it, these past three years weren’t all smooth sailing. I suffered self-esteem problems early in my first season. During my second season, I had a massive decrease in my self-confidence. I have messed up both of my knees, gotten two concussions, drove into a ditch on my way to a tournament, and even had to go to the ER from falling on my neck. I have been on a roller coaster of believing in myself and having no faith in myself. So after all of this, why do I still play?
First of all, I love it. I have always liked most sports, and participated in cross country and track in high school. I was never very good at sports, but that didn’t keep from enjoying them. Until now. I have never fallen in love with a sport like I have with rugby, and I also happen to be kind of good at it. I love the surge of power I feel when I step onto the pitch in my jersey. I love the way my body aches the next morning, as though I got hit by a truck. I love to show off the numerous bruises I get from tackling and being tackled. I love the feeling of wrapping my arms around a girl and bringing her to the ground. I love running head on into a mass of girls, and plowing my way through them. I love the look on my team’s face when they do something amazing. I love the feeling of forgetting everything expect the game. There is nothing in this world, not even writing, that makes me feel as free as rugby does. But it’s not all about me.
This season has been, by far, my favorite season ever. Why? Because I love my team so much. There are a group of beautiful, talented, and unique women. Not only do they play wonderfully, but they are also so kind and compassionate to each other. They work hard and take care of each other. It’s not just our new girls; our new coach brings so much to the team and never stops teaching us to be better. I’ve only known her for a few months, and she has already taught me so much. I’ll admit, sometimes I miss all of the girls that have moved on, but the chemistry I had with them wasn’t as strong as the chemistry I have with this team. I wish we had been closer as a team. I loved my vets, they taught me how to play this beautiful sport, but now I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anybody. I can just play the game I love. These girls look up to me and respect me in ways I didn’t thing I was worthy of on a rugby level. I love my team. They make every pain and every struggle worth it.
I also love our boy’s team. They are the boys I go to when I need something. They may sometimes have a reputation for negative things, but I am proud to know them as some of the best people I have ever met. They are so kind and funny and honest. I trust them. Sometimes they even take care of me. The bonds I have created with the boys’ team are ones I am so thankful for. Watching them play just happens to be an added bonus. I would do as much for their team as I would my own team.
Rugby gave me a place in college, along with a dysfunctional family. I met my current roommate through rugby, and she is one of my best friends. My guy best friend (Looking to you, BBF) is a rugby player for the boys. The people I go out with are ruggers. My closest friends are ruggers. The people who know me best are ruggers. I never imagined myself playing a sport like this, let alone succeeding at it. I love that it makes me unique. I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I play rugby. I love being a part of something so amazing that is filled with so many wonderful people. I love tackling an opposing team, and that sitting in a circle eating food and laughing with them, because we leave everything on the field. I love how we protect and stick up for each other. I love spending my Saturday mornings taking the field with my girls.
As this season is rapidly coming to an end, I know that I will love the extra free time at first. But it won’t be long until I get a familiar urge, and will begin counting down the days until spring season starts. That is why I play rugby.