For this installment, I thought I would highlight my incredible athleticism…
I wanted to write about something physical, because at least then there would be some comic relief involved. I thought about what club sport would be the most foreign to me, or else something that men of my stature usually do not even try to play. I finally settled on rugby. A sport, which met both criteria I set for myself, and also one that, I felt most certain had the highest risk of injury.
Let me preface this by saying that I am 5’6’’ and 125 pounds (after a good meal). Through the wonders of the Internet, I found that the average weight of a rugby player in the United Kingdom (where rugby is a major sport, just behind soccer) is 235 pounds. So, I am only at a slight disadvantage physically.
Rugby is played outside of the UK as well, and is extremely popular in South Africa, Australia,NewZealand and throughout Europe. ESU has its very own rugby team, Old Yellow Rugby club, which competes with regent schools, as well as schools from Missouri. I decided to get a better glimpse of the game by attending an Old Yellow practice.
When I arrived at the rugby pitch, located between Glennon Field and campus woods, I found a group of about 15 guys throwing around a ball shaped like an over-inflated football. I knew this experience was going to be interesting, but I had no idea what I was in for.
Once I met some of the guys and started asking them about the rules of the game, I realized how much I underestimated the intricacies of the game.
Rugby is an incredibly complex game, which doesn’t help a guy like me, who just wants to discover what it’s all about.
The team has a game this Saturday, versus Missouri Northwest. So I, not wanting to detract from practice time, decided to sit the practice out and try to analyze the game as they played it… My athletic prowess would have to wait to be unveiled to the rugby world at a later date.
But I did learn a lot for one afternoon, which was my primary purpose in attending the practice. I feel like I now have a better, albeit sideline, view of what the hell this game called rugby actually is.
I found a deep appreciation for the game, and respect for those like the Old Yellow Club, who play it. These guys go out there with next to zero padding on, ready to crush somebody, and often times get crushed in the process. That takes an incredible amount of gall, and a ton of intestinal fortitude, no matter who you are.
I feel like rugby doesn’t seem so foreign to me now. I am still a lowly greenhorn, but I think I could really get into this game— as a spectator, of course. There is so much rich history in it, even here at ESU. Andrew Rutter, the president and captain of the club explained that different groups of students have been playing rugby at ESU since the ‘70s. There is even an alumni game set for April 24, which I strongly urge everyone to attend. Rutter estimated that around 50 alumni were set to attend the event.
Rugby is an amazing game, and I am really thankful that the guys of Old Yellow took the time to painstakingly explain it to me.
There aren’t many organizations at ESU that practice a craft that has so much history and tradition behind it.
From my perspective, a scrum still seems like one giant mosh pit, and something I would be mildly terrified to be involved in, but for the guys of the Old Yellow Rugby Club, it’s all in a day’s work. And for that, I commend them. Keep scrumming guys.