Rough and Tumble

I play TCU Rugby. Rugby is a bit like this article: Hard-hitting and not always pretty 8212; but hopefully by the time it’s over, generally entertaining .

Yes, we are a “club” sport, but we’re not JUST a club sport. We are soldiers wearing purple and black, defending TCU. And in a combative white-knuckle sport like rugby, pain is as much a part of the game as the field or the ball. Your classmates on the rugby team have suffered blown knees, broken collarbones, cracked ribs, concussions and more on the rugby field. But it’s for a sport that we love and we’ve chosen to play.

At the University of Dallas in late 2010, two of our players collided with an opposing player, resulting in a three-skull pileup. To save the goriest details, I’ll just say that sometimes the rugby field gets a bit bloody.

I’m no stranger to injury either. In February of this year, I suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. At the end of a nice carry, I was hit with a typical blue-collar tackle. Going down, my arm and shoulder came under a huge amount of pressure. Like so many high-stress relationships these days, they decided it would be best if they went their separate ways. I am happy to say, though, that after meeting with a specialist, they have been reunited and are looking forward to a long and healthy union. And as for me, I’m looking forward to next season.

But playing rugby isn’t all about the physical toll it takes on your body or the athletic glory from winning a match. It’s also about the relationships you make on and off the field and the lives you’re able to touch in the process.

I’m an athlete at heart, and I joined the TCU rugby team because I needed an outlet. I love competition and the feeling I get from being part of a team. For me, rugby offers the opportunity to be part of an athletic family8212;a band of brothers8212;and the chance to represent the school I love.

As a former football player in high school and college, I didn’t know much about rugby. The strategies and rules were foreign to me when I started. But I learned them, and now I can’t get enough. I think there’s an important lesson in that: sometimes the most rewarding experiences take place when you’re outside your comfort zone. And rugby, in particular, is not known for it’s comforting qualities.

The sport attracts people from many countries, cultures, values and religions. You’ll meet all types of personalities playing this sport: field generals, followers, intellectuals, meatheads and everything in between. In a sport that is known to be hard-hitting and occasionally violent, you often attract personalities that are passionate and strong-willed. And sometimes guys with extreme personalities can be thrill seekers or adrenaline junkies. Off the field, this can translate into arguably risky behavior.

On our team, there are no offensive and defensive players like in other sports. Every man plays every part of the game. We each need to be able to run, pass, and tackle. This engenders a real sense of selfless camaraderie. And in such a physical sport, there is no room for whiners, complainers or crybabies. Each player pulls his own weight, helping him develop an appreciation for responsibility and accountability.

Many are the gifts and blessings that rugby offers, building principles and values that help us grow and become better people.