“Wow, rugby is such a rough sport!” I hear that every time I tell some one I play. Initially, I would defend rugby like, “its not that bad”, or rebuff with “football is way more savage.” I am finally willing to admit that you have to have a little bit of crazy to play. Rugby isn’t a game of paddy cake. The sight of 30 grown ass adults basically fighting to see who can move an ostrich egg-shaped ball across a painted field sounds absurd! I have seen bloody noses. split eye brows and broken legs. And still I play.
That first year, you would think I volunteered to spar with “Iron Mike” Tyson three times a week. I found new cuts and bruises everyday and my joints popped like Orville Redenbacher popcorn. At the time I was drastically out of shape. I was pudgy and sluggish. The constant punishment I put my body through forced me to pay more attention to what it was telling me. I began icing my legs after practice, massaging the knots out of my quads and taking stretching much more seriously. Have you ever noticed that elderly gentleman at the park going through a 20-step warm up routine before going for his 10-mile jog? I became that guy.
Im sure this is basic knowledge to anyone that has played sports at a higher level. I never made it to college, but it’s not like I pursued it either. I didn’t have the dedication required to purse football at the college level. I was more bookworm than jock. I’ll admit, rugby has given me a taste of the “post-high school athlete” experience. I wouldn’t say I’m trying to relive my glory years like Al Bundy at Polk high, but its more like a mature version of Blue Mountain State. I see the punishment as a part of the package, and a reminder that you’re alive. One thing that keeps me going is a mantra I pick up in gym class my senior year: Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Those early years of griping about pain led me to explore new methods of self care. I learned that balance key. I now counter act the damage I do to my body by practicing yoga. I don’t think it will ever reverse the affect, but I believe yoga gives me a different kind of strength. A strength that I didn’t believe was beneficial to a contact sport. I won’t dive too deep into it now but I will say I take back all the disparaging words I ever directed towards yoga. It kicked my ass the other day.