Before this semester, I barely knew how the game of rugby worked. I would watch snippets of games if they appeared on my Facebook, but I never really understood the rules other than it seeming like it had none, other than trying to get to the ball from one end to the other while running into as many people as possible. However, I fatefully wrote down my info of the email and texting list of the women’s rugby club here at Hopkins during the student involvement fair, and it is one of the best things I’ve done this semester by far.
First off, I actually learned the rules of rugby. There are 15 players on the field at a time, and you actually don’t get to pick the number on your jersey, because actually corresponds with your position in line, on the field. Also, to advance the ball it’s a bit trickier than other sports because you can only pass the ball laterally or behind you. But you can kick it forward! Also, every time there is a foul called, there are specific rules for how the other team gets possession, either through a line-out or a scrum. These both give the penalized team a chance to win back possession. Also, you can only tackle people in certain ways, in order to keep everyone safe; some of these things are enforced as rules of the game, like penalties for high tackles, others we are taught so that we don’t hurt ourselves in the process of trying to force someone else to the ground. Another strange thing about rugby is that if you score, the other team kicks off to you, granting you possession again!
All in all, rugby is basically football, but harder. There are no helmets or pads or shin guards. It’s just you. But we still do the same type of tackles, but holding is allowed!! Also, there isn’t a break from play every 10 seconds; we play continuously for 40 minute halves, meaning that after getting steam rolled by someone, you have to get back up and keep playing immediately. And, when you’re down, rugby makes it harder for you to catch up, since one the other team scores, they’re back on the offensive.
But that’s the thing, because rugby is so hard, I love it. First, running into people is a great way to de-stress. Second, the perseverance that rugby requires has made me realize this inner-strength that I didn’t know I had. A rugby match may only be 80 minutes, but it is truly grueling. It’s constant action, sprinting, and tackling or being tackled. And being able to do that, is a feat of endurance. And being able to find that in myself, and in this amazing group of women that I get to play with, makes me so proud.
And the best thing about it is the people that I get to play the game with. I love being able to go to practice with all these amazing, super kind, and tough as hell women. I can’t wait to hit the field, because it’s one of the points during the week where I get to take a break from academics and learn something new, but I also get to hear everyone’s crazy stories of the week and tell everyone about my own.