January 15, 2009
“Crouch, touch pause… Engage!” says the official as the scrumhalf rolls the ball into the middle of the two giant piles of men down the 50 meter line. The two scrums of the opposing teams collide together. The feeling of 8 guys trying to move another 8 guys only a few meters shows discipline that only a forward can feel. I am always ready to spring into action in the last minute. As a flanker, I am on the outside of the scrum, and I have to be the first off of it. The opposing team’s eight man seems to have come up with the ball. When I notice this, I go. With the fury of God I use all of my strength to take down this man. I hit him and the ball flies out of his hands. I look to my left and I see Conor, my team’s 8 man, pick up the ball at the 50 meter line and start running through a hole in the other team’s defense. This hole was open for half of a second, but that was all he needed. He got on his horse and ran a 50 meter sprint and dove across the try line. The team celebrates with him after he scores as the official blows his whistle and marks the end of the game. We all know that even though it was Conor’s try, we all had a big part in this. Our hard work had finally paid off. We huddle up together, arms around each other’s shoulders. In unison, we bend our knees and jump up while screaming, “Trample the weak, hurdle the dead.” We had won the game.

Rugby is the ultimate team sport. As a forward and being in a scrum, you have to truly trust the guys to your left and right. If one person in the scrum is not doing what they are supposed to, there will be a collapse of the scrum, and people will get hurt. You have to sacrifice your body for your teammates. You learn that a little pain won’t kill you; you learn that you have to go through the pain for the good of your team. We literally get into a controlled fight every week together. We bleed for each other. I would do anything for any one of my teammates, on and off the field, and I know that they feel the same way about me. If the team needs me for anything, I will do my best to make sure that I accomplish it.

The real meaning of teamwork is was shown to me through rugby, sacrifice. The team’s goals are higher than any one else’s personal “needs.” If a player is selfish and isn’t willing to get in the middle of a ruck then they are not only not helping the team, they are also hurting the team. A ruck, the change of possession that happens when the ball goes on the ground and each team tries to get the ball, is important to have support from your team. If you have the most players on their side of the ball, you have a better a chance for them to get the ball. Support is the main aspect of the game. If you feel that you cannot support the team 150%, then you had better leave the pitch. Every player needs to be committed to the team more than most sports. If there is a weakness in the team, our opponents will find it and exploit it.

No matter how complicated and disorganized it may seem to someone who is watching it, rugby is a very simple game once you get the hang of it. I started playing rugby as a sophomore. The people I was playing with on my team had a lot more experience than I did, and I didn’t know the rules of the game. This was unlike any other sport I had played. There was no stopping for breaks when you were tired, and no pads to protect you. The first time I stepped on the pitch in a match was the first game that we had. It was an A side game and Coach had put me in because one of our players had suffered a concussion. Coach started to call someone else’s name. He said, “Josh… O’Connor, get ready and get in there.” This was the joy of my life; this was the fear of my life. I had always wanted to play on the A side since I started going to practices. This is because all of my friends were in A side because they had played their freshman year. However I didn’t think I was ready. My dad was there and I told him, “Dad, I am really nervous. I don’t think I’m ready.” My dad replied, “Ned, he is putting you in for a reason. Why else would he have thought of you rather than Josh? Now go in there and kick their a**.” This gave me the confidence to get into the game. I would have probably been more timid, but I knew that my reputation with the team, Coach, and my father was on the line. I then ran right into the middle of the mauls, rucks, and big forwards that were coming at me. I dove into the rucks. . This sport had been confusing to me not five minutes beforehand. Rugby has a flow to it which makes the game easier to play. As I was on the ground, I could feel the other team’s players trying to climb over my teammates that supported me. That was when I first knew that the sport of rugby would become my passion and how I would want to play for the rest of my life.
After my performance of the game, Coach went up to me and said, “Ned, how do you like it? You gonna be coming to practice on Monday?” My reply to this was, “Hell yea, Coach! I love it!” I was smiling from ear to ear. I felt that it was the best day of my life, no matter how many cuts, bruises, aches, or sores I had after the game. I had played for myself, but it was for more than that. I wasn’t that self centered to think that I was the most important. I played for my teammates, my brothers.

Because of my first act on the pitch, I ended up being a constant A side reliever. Coach made sure to put me it if someone was hurt because of my will to sacrifice my body against the other team. I wanted to punish the other team for trying to hurt my brothers. I have played many sports in my life: football, cross country, basketball, sailing, lacrosse, and rugby. Rugby, by far, is the sport that builds the most companionship with the team than any of those other sports I have played. You fight, you bleed, you win, you lose, you laugh, and you cry together. The hardships of conditioning, practices, and games are well worth the feeling after a well earned victory that you share with your teammates. Rugby is has become my life’s passion, and there is no turning back now.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

jack said...
Feb. 19, 2009 at 5:00 pm
Shows lots of passion, but not as well written as the first story. Still, he made his point clearly
Frank T. said...
Feb. 18, 2009 at 6:30 pm
That was a terrific story and very well thought out.I could feel his passion.
Site Feedback