Rugby Is Weird

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I found rugby by accident, but I knew it was where I belonged. It’s fascinating to me that such a cool, calm, and collected gentlemen like myself found so much joy in running and tackling grown-ass men. My first social after my introduction solidified my love for rugby. I saw old men and young’ ns laughing together; men and women sharing stories; black and white people playing games and singing; gay, straight, and non-binary people playing some jungle wrestling game; and so much more. It was a perfect example of rugby being an all-inclusive kaleidoscope of quirky individuals.

After playing rugby for so long you realize something is off with us. Rugby is not as crazy as Calcio Storico, but it is organized chaos mixed with wrestling, and a dash of violence, and a sprinkle of sass. I love the collisions.1 A great hit reminds you of your mortality. It’s a rush that I’m willing to chase for as long as I can. But with every high comes a low. In this case, the low is a mixture of shenanigans, spirits, and weirdness. 

My first social I saw a man crossdress in a form-fitting lipstick red cocktail dress. The dress was 4 sizes too small and his rolls and bulges were unanticipated fashion accessories. In Shakespearean fashion, he dressed as a woman to play the fair maiden in "Barnacle Bill the Sailor". The song is a classic rugby duet where the pair go back and forth flirting and playing hard to get. Besides the awkwardness of teammates flirting, the song lyrics are pretty raunchy and most likely will get you “canceled”.2 Nowadays, the socials are a bit tamer and there is less singing. 3 Amidst these moments I awkwardly feel at home. 

I don’t enjoy every part of the weird side of rugby, but I understand why it is there. Outsiders need a place to belong. I was the quiet kid growing up because kids can be assholes. I know I’m not the only kid that was made fun of for having a large vocabulary, doing well in school, and having cheap clothes. These factors lead to many “not black enough” and “white boy” jokes growing up.4 I lost my “oreo” stigma when I started playing football.5 With that boost of confidence, I started to act up in school and getting kick-out of class. My grades remained around a B+ average, but I put on the facade of a struggling student. All that work to be part of the in-crowd would come undone when I switched schools my senior year.

I was uprooted and moved to a school with a little over 1000 students; where the majority population was caucasian.6 My previous school was multicultural with over 3,000 students. Football no longer made me "cool". I was now being judged purely by my skin color. The rednecks didn’t care about my vocabulary or what clothes I wore. All they saw was a new black kid in their school.7 After the football season, I realized who put up with me just because we were teammates.8 I played into their expectations of me out of spite. Blaring hip hop through the town square, sagging my jeans, and getting into mischief. It was an exhausting couple of years. I only found relief by changing my surroundings and going to college.

Attending the UMD allowed me to shed my dueling personalities. Being insignificant in a sea of baby adults allowed me to mold myself around my interests. I regret not finding rugby at UMD, but I was able to take classes that interested me and connect with people that had similar interests. I met the author of my favorite childhood origami books, John Montroll. I attended my first concert at UMD, Wale and The Clipse. I donated bone marrow to pay for my books and supplies. All the new experiences I chose to purse allowed me to create my own identity. I was able to focus on impressing myself instead of my peers. After graduating I promised myself I would do what feels right. Rugby feels right; as violent and weird as it may be.

  1. Like Marshawn Lynch said, “Run through a muhfuca face, then you don’t have to worry bout him no mo.” That clip gives me goosebumps like when Whitney Houston sang the national anthem.
  2. I can appreciate comedy in any shade. Like most comedians will say “funny is funny” and these rugby songs are hilarious. They make fun of all the unsafe topics. I suggest if you get offended respond on the pitch.
  3. Maybe because we host teams at family-friendly restaurants. You can't really let a penis lyric fly when there is an impressionable baby suckling at the teet.
  4. It’s ironic how I now play a “white boy” sport now.  Maybe they weren’t assholes…nah they were.
  5. I had so much pent up anger from bullying I black out in contact drill and hit EVERYBODY. My coach asked me in awe what had gotten into me, and I don’t think I even responded.i was drunk with rage. When they joke about making friends with the quiet kid in class, keep this in mind.
  6. No matter the diversity, clicks will always form.
  7. The majority of my classmates were welcoming and embraced me with love, but negativity tends to overshadow the good.
  8. Or turned their backs because their day one friends didn’t agree with us talking.