Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons in Rugby

i always get excited at the prospect of attending a sporting event that is relatively unknown to me especially in another country.  The more unfamiliar i am with the game and the rules, the better.  Each sporting event has a culture all its own but add cultural differences and it is a whole new game.  Camel racing for example was not particularly my sort of sporting event but the whole process was so foreign and fascinating (See it here) that a boring race suddenly became wildly exciting.

In New Zealand it is all about Rugby, THE past time.  Combine Americans' love for baseball AND football, and you still can't match the passion New Zealanders have for rugby and their team the All Blacks.  Rugby seems to run in their blood.  Regardless of age or sex, Kiwis know rugby.  Grannies toss rugby balls while at the park and diaper wearing toddlers are taught to tackle.  It is serious stuff.  So when some friends of ours invited us to their son's Saturday morning rugby game, we were excited to take in a bit of grass roots New Zealand culture.  We bundled up in multiple layer, heated up mugs of coffee and tea, grabbed our chairs and headed to the local game.  

i won't even get into all the rules, positions and terms of rugby as i would make a fool of myself but i do know one thing... it is TOUGH.  When a game uses terms such as "Maul" and "Choke Tackle" to describe legal moves and a "Blood Bin" is where you go for a quick 15 minute break when your wounds are losing too much blood, you know it is serious.  One could possibly compare it to the game of football only no pads or helmets are worn.  The only compulsory item of protection for young rugby players is a mouth piece.  Helmets are optional for kids.

Pic from

As we drive around the local playing field looking for a parking place, we realize all the spectators are standing around watching the games.  STANDING.  It seems everyone forgot to bring their very comfortable captain chair with the handy cup holder.  Apparently this isn't the soft Saturday morning soccer game where everyone sets up camp on the field.  Riley says nonchalantly, "Mom, just leave my chair in the car, i am not going to need it."  Note taken... do not bring chairs to a rugby game.  If players are bleeding on the field, the audience shouldn't be comfy on the sidelines.

It seems some forgot to bundle up as well.

With hands wrapped cozy around hot coffee, we waddled along in our wintery woolen layers till we located the field of our friends.  (For those of you that may think we are just being wimpy, it was a wet 38 degrees that morning.)

 We learned a new language as we watched a group of 8 year olds ScrumTry, Tackle and Ruck.  
i think my kid may be wearing more head protection from the cold than the little Kiwi has on for rugby. 

i was super impressed with the after game team huddle.  The coach acknowledged every player that had reached their personal goal set for that game.  
"Pete, you beat your goal of 8 tackles!"
"Arnie you made more than 7 passes."
"Liam, good on ya for those 3 trys."
It was like a mini award ceremony but based on their actual achievements for this game.  It was an inspiring team and character building opportunity.  
Standard Kiwi practice/culture after all kid games so i am told.
Suddenly i want nothing more than to bring this profound level of coaching to The States!

And this is what draws me to foreign sporting events i realize.  It is the hour and half recap i get of daily life.  A microcosm of what it is like to live life abroad in a culture different than my own.  In fact maybe even a picture of life in general.   
The constant revolving door of

Got this

Going into a situation and thinking i'm in control as i have a general idea of how things should play out 
i arrive and find i am completely out of place, quite foolish looking and possibly even lost  
i surmise to myself this place must be crazy
This PLACE then proceeds to show me something beautiful i could only learn here and from that i am 


Pretty deep i guess for a game of rugby.
What will i get out of the upcoming game of Netball?!


Aaron said...

Good on you Tami!

Betty said...

When are you taking up the game?