The first time I saw a rugby game in grad school, courtesy of an invitation by a British friend who was playing, I didn’t think there were many (perhaps any) rules. It appeared to me to be closely akin to throwing a ball out at recess in the middle of a bunch of first or second graders and saying, “Get it”, although hopefully at that level, the ensuing mayhem would be on a much milder level and sans the blood streaming down a face or two. Eventually I realized there were rules…but that the mayhem not only remained, but was rejoiced in, even when the “old boys” got together, creaking and groaning, to commiserate about the good old days and good old plays. (And believe you me, they remember every single one of those plays.)
Last year, our younger daughter and I gathered with other rugby fans at a nearby Irish pub, and with a draft or two of Guinness for me, to watch New Zealand’s All-Blacks defeat France 8-7, in New Zealand. We had a great time and there’s absolutely nothing in sports like watching the All Black’s perform the haka before a game:
However, the real reason I’m thankful for rugby is that years ago, I attended a game on a day where I had nothing else to do, in response to an invitation from a couple of friends who’d been helping me coach the boys’ soccer team at the high school at which I was teaching. And not too many post-games later at the local roadhouse, (now a much more upscale restaurant with glass-topped tables but no panache), a player looking for a spot to sit and eat his hamburgers in a room so filled that only a few seats were left at already-occupied tables, asked if he could sit with me, and that player eventually became my husband.
He doesn’t play rugby anymore (although he still remembers every play, injury and concussion), but today’s his birthday and I want to acknowledge that if it weren’t for rugby, I’d have missed out on the best person in my life! So here’s to rugby and happy birthday to my husband! Ruck on.