One of the most grueling pastimes around, Rugby; a sport of constant battle, skillful footing, strength, wit and endurance. Bruises, cuts, sprains and breaks are all part of this challenging sport of gentlemen, but at the end of 80 minutes of play, both teams walk off exhausted and meet up at the nearest pub ready to pat each other on the back and share a few pints.
A folk sport of sorts, it’s origins possibly rooted in Ancient Greek and Roman societies, where men of every walk of life would gather to play sport in a public field, competing with a ball – running, kicking, tackling.
As early as 1175 manuscripts tell of men gathering in a field to watch their jurors compete in sport with a ball. This “sport” continued to be noted throughout the history of England and Ireland many times of which as an outlawed activity by Kings due to the violence and death that would occur during play. However I’m guessing a few of theses injuries and deaths might have been averted had the players taken off their daggers before taking the field.
On a wintery Saturday or Sunday afternoon, if you wander by most pubs in Ireland you’ll find the locals gathered around the tv cheering on the team. Soccer, Gaelic Football, and Rugby are the staple sports diet in these parts.
A few saturdays back I was watching the small but scrappy Irish Rugby team stomp the enormous Fijian team, down at Boyles Pub with a few local friends. Sitting there next to us was Jason Oneill, born and reared in Slane who had played professionally in Australia for many years and now was the editor of Ireland’s new leading monthly magazine on rugby, Rugby Player Magazine. http://www.rugbyplayermagazie.ie Jason also helps coach the ladies rugby team in near by Navan…….bet you can guess where this is going! After a couple of phone calls, I found a pair of cleats to borrow and on the following Tuesday I was on the pitch – the pitch a.k.a the field. (I’m pretty sure I just heard my Mother faint from 3000 miles away)
A cold and damp night awaited at the ginormous Navan Rugby Club but I was warmly welcomed by a locker room full of chatty twenty and thirty year old ladies. I wasn’t worried about the potential injuries or day after aches and pains that lie ahead as much as I was worried about this 40-something year old body keeping up on the pitch and not looking the fool. I had not played Rugby since 2007 when I had a bout of insanity and randomly signed up to play with the St Louis Sabers Ladies Rugby Team. Then I was in much better shape and knew nothing of the game, now I know loads more about the game and am horribly out of shape!
Two hours later…….I had survived with all my teeth. Exhausted, cold, bruised, filthy dirty, and my dignity intact- I had one of the best evenings yet since arriving in Ireland! And have been back for more since!! For more information about the sport of Rugby as well as some great explanation of play goto http://www.artofmanliness.com and search out their article on Rugby.