Are you aware that thrice a week, a co-ed group of students from all walks of Sewanee convene on the field between Quintard and the Tennessee Williams Center to partake in the joy of rugby? — a wonderful sport that is both ruggedly simplistic: (grab the ball and run! If someone on the other team is trying to do so, tackle them!), and comically over-complicated and dramatic: (When the ball goes out, several players from both teams engage in a series of chants and hoist the tallest players into the air to compete with one another in the catching of the ball from the “impartial” throw in). The purpose of this article is to both make you aware of the existence of this club sport and persuade you to potentially join in the endeavor, particularly if you are female, given that this is the more difficult population to recruit. Despite how incredibly fun the premises of the sport are, it is shrouded in misapprehensions (and apprehensions).
I am relatively new to the team (and the sport) — I joined at the turn of the semester this year with no prior knowledge. Thus, I feel equipped to appeal to those whose only reservations involve a lack of experience. It is incredibly awkward and counterintuitive to start, given rules such as only pass backwards, but then, you gradually get better, and realizing that you’ve gotten better after a difficult practice becomes the most endorphin-producing part of your day. Also, shockingly, no one makes fun of you; instead, you are supported and encouraged relentlessly despite your many shortcomings. All this is to say, don’t let a lack of experience deter you.
The greatest deterrent for potential players seems to be the idea that one is not aggressive enough, or “doesn’t have what it takes.” This is a misapprehension due to the fact that, like any sport, skill and precision are far more valuable than aggression to achieving any goal within the game. To be successful at rugby, all you must have is some baseline athleticism and the ability to acquire new skills. The sadistic mindset embodied by many players is more in service of an aesthetic ideal than actually increased competency in the sport. That being said — you are probably unable yet to imagine the nature of the barbaric feelings that will take hold in you after being thoughtlessly hurled on the cold and muddy ground by a dead-eyed and widely grinning opponent for the third time in the span of five minutes — soon you’ll see!
The aforementioned situation leads me to the greatest part of the sport: it forces you to endure and inflict brutality in a way that is highly similar (I presume) to the lives of our pre-industrialized ancestors and, therefore, serves as a wonderful counterweight to the coddled safety-ism of modern western industrial life. And you learn to love it. I mean this in the least-disturbed way possible: there is a deep satisfaction and self-actualization that comes from getting beaten-up. I wake up the morning after a rugby tournament covered in bruises, cuts, and deep aches in a litany of places, and it produces a profound joy in me that is lasting and unlike any other. And, I might mention, I’m not someone who considers myself to be in any way macho or especially physically zealous— I resonate with a more traditionally feminine world view and approach to life. It is very likely the case, though, that my female homo sapien ancestors fell out of trees, warded off predators, and tripped over rocks far more often that the average teenage girl does today — and that my adrenaline cushioned wounds and attacks in rugby mirror these experiences in some meaningful way, translating into a heightened appreciation for the physical capabilities and resilience of the human body, and the mere fact that I’m alive at all.
The benefits of taking an hour and a half out of your day a couple of times a week to play rugby are abundant, and it’s hard not to turn to a philosophical argument due to the ways in which this sport is an antidote to much of what appears to be most plaguing young people’s lives currently: loneliness, lack of physical touch, sedentarism, purposelessness, etc.. If you’ve been experiencing feelings of restlessness, lifelessness, self-doubt, or repression, this might be just the outlet you need. (Or if you’re well adjusted and normal and just want to do something super fun, you as well!).