Lessons Learned From Rugby
My #2 son* is a rugger (*birth order not favoritism!). He’s been playing since high school when two fathers, players from rival teams, started a Rugby Club at Iggy. Here are 5 life lessons I’ve learned from Brent and his teams over the years:
1. Dive into the mud. When the pitch is wet and muddy, pre-game prep includes running through and sliding into the puddles. This readies you for the game by eliminating the tendency to avoid the bad spots on the pitch. The initial shock of cold water contact has been made before the game. Muscle memory necessary for playing on wet grass and mud is awakened and what could have been the cause of bad plays early in the game is removed. ~From this I have learned that by jumping in, we create conditions for new encounters. Fear makes us avoid situations and holds us back from doing our best work. Approaching life as an offensive, not defensive, player may lead to more enjoyable or fruitful opportunities.
2. Your body is an instrument not a weapon. Rugby requires no personal protection equipment. Some players protect their ears by using tape or wearing a scrum cap. Individuals can wear shin guards or braces and tape or bandage fingers and joints. But there are no shoulder pads and helmets to minimize the impact of bodies smashing into each other. In fact, the “Laws of the Game” states “a player shall not wear anything that might prove dangerous to other players.” ~Being vulnerable and treating others as though they are not protected by layers of gear designed to keep people at a distance helps increase our sensitivity and compassion.
3. Get right up when you fall. Unlike American football, play doesn’t stop when someone hits the ground and, there are few time-outs. Ruggers are in it for the love of the game knowing injury and soreness are waiting on the sidelines. ~This means rain or shine, tired or under the weather, we must get up and show up for the day and bring our best to it no matter what.
4. Battles but no enemies. No matter how fiercely the battle on the pitch rages, the teams are not enemies. Rugby post games include nourishment. Opposing teams often break bread together after a game. At the post games I’ve attended, congratulations for good plays were shared and games past and present were examined over a pint (no pints for high school teams, but the host teams fed the visitors). ~We can agree to disagree while listening carefully to each other. Age, culture, race are all things that can divide us. Try to find common ground and focus on what makes us similar to each other.
5. One thread is enough. Teammates are family. For some mates, just this one thin thread is the link, but it is so strong that they would do anything for a mate. ~We can’t choose our families, our co-workers or all our team members. We can choose how we treat the people with whom we come in contact. Even if we’ve never faced a dire situation, we have the ability to imagine what it would be like. Often, this is enough to compel many of us to help another being. Empathy is a huge unifying factor.
These lessons have been guiding me for a long while but not until a 2 days ago did my bulleted list came sharply into focus. Being thousands of miles and 18 months away from my last rugby game, I heard that a rugger needs help. Brent’s teammate, George Calfas, has been hospitalized since Christmas Eve battling pneumonia, influenza, and fluid between the layers of tissue that line his lungs and chest cavity. His kidneys are fighting him, so he’s on dialysis. Jan 3rd he went through surgery to drain pockets of fluid his chest tube couldn’t reach. On Jan 4th, he had surgery again for a blood clot. George and his wife Bridget have a 6 year old and twin 17 month old children. Diapers, food/meals, gift cards, prayers, spreading the word to your friends and family – absolutely anthing you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.
For more information, please visit/message the Champaign County Flatlanders Rugby team via their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/flatlanderrugby
You don’t have to be a rugby mom to learn life lessons from the game.
*~* Update from the Champaign County Flatlanders, 21 January 2015*~*
“Rugger update on George—one of our co-founders who has been in ICU since Christmas Eve. He is now home, which is great!
He does still have a long recovery ahead, so for those who can offer support the rugby team is still in charge of snow removal when needed and there’s a volunteer site organized by our graphic designer, Anni. For details on either of those options, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!”