It’s not a big secret that I love sports – almost any kind. I don’t actually participate in that many, but I do enjoy watching. Anything from golf to auto racing to basketball to football to rugby… all these are fair game for television viewing. And they range from the very singular sport of golf to the very team-oriented sport of rugby. [And I can hear the arguments being made right now that auto racing is a team sport, but we don’t have time for that discussion at the moment.]
Sports in general serve many purposes, among them helping kids (and adults) figure out things like schedules, self-discipline, and working with others. But they also help us figure out life, that interesting, wonderful roller coaster. If you really think about it, in the best and worst of days, life is filled with moments & little surprises that should make us smile if we’re paying close enough attention. It doesn’t always go the way we planned, and sometimes we get thrown a curveball, other times a hardball that’s easy to hit out of the park.
So, I found myself at a rugby practice the other day, pondering life in general. And as I watched a bit of this rugby practice, I couldn’t help but think how similar to life rugby really is, more so than other sports, imho.
More than any other sport I’ve been involved with, and by “involved with” I mean write a check, rugby is the most different, most unique. Is it because it’s from another country and uses weird terms? Well, yes, that’s true, it is and it does. But it’s unique for a lot of reasons. Primarily, rugby is a very fluid game (like life); it relies on players physically helping and supporting each other (scrums and rucks=friends and family); it involves players who ideally should know 3 positions (plans a-c); and after the match, the social brings everyone together. Rugby fans are fond of saying rugby is a way of life, but to me, it also resembles life.
Rugby’s fluidity is exciting – the constant changes in direction of play, the scrums, the tackles… these are all very exciting aspects of the game. It’s what keeps me glued to the play. And isn’t life constantly changing? Keeping us on our toes? The plans we make get changed all the time – we adapt. That direction we thought our life was taking us? Whoops – here’s a roadblock. But we continue to have faith, we continue to strive forward, because one day we’re going to be holding the ball and we’re going to score. And those moments are priceless.
Unlike some sports where a kid may be pigeon-holed in a certain position, in rugby, players are encouraged to know at least 3 positions. If you lose a player, then someone else can step in and be supportive. How many times do we talk about all the different hats we wear in our lives? And let’s talk about the scrum – can you say group hug? On the sidelines you might hear cheers of “Support! Support!” It’s key to support your fellow players on the pitch, be there when they fall to get the ball and help them get up. You’ve gotta have this support in life as well.
Ruggers must be continuously aware of what’s happening on the field all the time, all over the place. They’re not held to just taking care of one person that affects their position. Sometimes they don’t always play their position correctly – sometimes in life we mess up. But the team keeps on playing, and provides opportunities to play better, “fix” a mistake; in life, we keep on going, and our friends and family provide us opportunities to do it better the next time. In that, I must have faith.
And that’s life. Sometimes we knock it on, and sometimes we screw up the scrum. No question. But sometimes we kick it straight through the goalposts, and those are the moments for which we live, strive and play. That part between the knock-on’s and the try’s, that’s the journey we call rugby/life. And while my faith helps me to know that I’m not alone on the journey, I kind of think that a good rugby match helps me to know that, too.