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The sun beat down on me as if I were in a desert. My team was already sweating as if they had played their game already. The grass on the field was dry and rough to the touch. This was my last rugby game of the season and I wanted it to be my best game yet. I wanted to have my team get one last victory. As a freshman, I didn’t get that much playing time, but when I did I always tried my best to make an impact.
“Alright gather up!” Coach said. “It’s our last game and I want us to make it a good one,” he said. He began to list today's starters. He went through the list as normal but I was quite shocked when I heard my name called last to start at wing.
“Mouth guards in and get out on that field!” Coach hollered. I quickly grabbed my mouth guard and jogged onto the field. “Wait for just a second Christian. I started you today because I’ve been seeing some great things from you in practice and you have speed, but you have to make some adjustments. You can’t be afraid to tackle anyone. Even those big guys who are probably double your weight. You can’t be scared of them. Now get out there!”
I could feel my heart pounding through my chest like a jackhammer, the sweat made my red jersey stick to my body. My team kicked off the ball. The other team received it and began moving in my direction.
“Thankfully I’m a wing,” I said. Wings stay all the way on one side and act as a sort of safety, which means they have to tackle and ruck the least. I have always had a tough time tackling. It’s not that I’m even bad at it, it’s just I’m so afraid. At the first game of the season I made my first ever tackle, but when I fell down I sprained my wrist very badly and ended up missing 2 full weeks. Ever since then I’ve hesitated before I tackled or just didn’t even try to at all.
With this intention, the game began. In the first half not much came my way which I was very thankful for. Fewer injuries for me! It was a tie game 10-10 going into the second half. I was still so nervous that someone might get to the outside of our defense and I’d be forced to tackle someone. What if I missed a tackle? Or even worse if I hurt myself again? Those thoughts swirled through my mind as I guarded the left side of the field, or should I say a desert. Just a few minutes later someone did just that. One of the forwards on my team named Nick missed a tackle and one of the other team’s fullback came right at me. I braced myself, got low, and lunged at the kid. I came on with more force than I anticipated. The poor kid fell down pretty hard and lost the ball in the process. The ball flew up in the air. One of the wings from the other team tried to catch it but ended up dropping forward which is a penalty. Now Ryan´s team has possession of the ball. They set up a back line to get ready and pass the ball. Ryan waited at the end as his team launched the ball into play.
Sweat dripped down my face as if I were taking a shower, the sun was relentless. My team passed the ball down the line efficiently. They gained about 10 yards before my teammate Joe was tackled by an opposing forward, but no one came to help him.
¨Ruck over him!¨ I cried out. My team finally came to his aid just in the nick of time as the other team was about the steal the ball from Joe. They moved down the line until it got to the last two people. Julien, a large forward received the ball right in front of me. The opponent's defense finally got close enough and wrapped up Julien. As Julien was going down, I was standing about 3 feet behind him and yelled out ¨Julien!¨. Julien barely got the ball out to me but then I turned on the jets. I took off in between the first two defenders and made a third one miss, I was in the clear. I sprinted harder than ever before. I sprinted down the sideline of scorched earth and could hear my coach screaming ¨Run! Keep Going!¨. I could see the try zone ahead of me but there was another wing blocking my path. I cut back in to make him miss but that allowed the defense to catch up with again. Before a large forward took me out, I launched a pass back to Julien and he punched it into the try zone.
The game would end a few minutes later with my team edging it out 15-10. I walked off the field with bruises up and down his legs and grass stains all throughout his jersey. In fact, I started limping slightly due to a pain in my ankle. But despite this, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I stood my ground when faced with adversity. I could ask for nothing more than to end a season on that note. As I was packing up my things, my coach walked up behind me.
¨Incredible running Christian that's what I want to see. But also I saw you go straight into a tackle with no hesitation whatsoever. I just wanted to say great job,¨.
¨Thanks coach.¨ I let out. I took a huge sigh of relief but felt proud. As I walked toward the parking lot to search for my ride, I took a quick glance back at the field for the last time this season. A smile appeared on my face for a second, then I took off.