I survived my first rugby union match last week. Five months after deciding that I wanted to go to the Olympics and three months after starting pre-season training, it was finally game day. Now some people might expect me to say I slayed, that I scored a try, that I threw girls double my size on the ground and that out-stepped the opposition. No. No, I didn’t. I did none of that. It was more of a comedic debut and it came as no surprise. What else would I expect? I had never played a rugby union game in my life so of course I would look like a baby giraffe trying to walk. It’ll be a hilarious story in a couple of years when I look back. My first touch was the ball quite literally bouncing off my shoulder. My dad laughed. I shook my head and kept going. What else was I going to do? Let’s just say that overall, give me a couple of games and just watch the decision making improve. Within three months of playing, I have to say I’ve learnt a lot from rugby already and cannot wait to see what I learn in the future.
For now, this is what I have learnt:
-You’re not going to be a superstar in your first game…or even in the first few games or longer
→ when you’re starting a new sport, you’re basically learning how to walk all over again. In a sense, it’s easier to start a new sport younger as a kid than when you’re in your late teens or as an adult. In my case at least, I’ve always been on top or close to the top in whatever endeavour I take part it- whether academic or karate related. Coming to rugby, I’m far from the top at the moment. I mean, I’ve never played rugby union, I’ve always been a huge league fan and I’ve only dabbled in a bit of touch in year 8 at high school. It takes time to become equipped with the skills and it’s important to remember that you’re going to make mistakes Also, training is one thing, game day is another. It’s going to take a couple of games to get into the motion of things and to learn the ropes of the sport and the tricks of the trade. With experience, comes knowledge.
-Team sports are different to individual sports
I’m probably going to end up writing a post about this, but I’ve already picked up on the big differences between team sports and individual sports. When it comes to individual sports, you just focus on yourself and your mistakes and your own. For team sports, your mistakes are the team’s mistakes and what you do wrong impacts everyone and not just you.
-With confidence, comes a good outcome
One thing that comes with a lot of contact sports is that when you go in hard and confident, you won’t get hurt. If you hesitate and think too much, that’s when things start going haywire and when you’re more likely to get hurt. When you’re confident and you persist, you’re more likely to get the outcome you’re after. That can be applied to daily life too- tackle things head on and don’t hesitate. When you hesitate, you could miss out or struggle. The important thing is to persist and keep on going.
-It feels good to be sore and I didn’t realise I missed it so much
Alright this might be an odd one for some, but weirdly a shared sentiment for others. I genuinely miss the feeling of being sore. Firstly, as someone with health anxiety it actually gives me an explanation for the bodily sensations I feel. Secondly, it reminds me that I’ve actually exercised and gotten a good training session/game in. It’s a fab feeling to have and a reminder that I’m doing something I love.
-You’re a part of something bigger than yourself
Going along with the differences between team and individual sports, realising that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself is probably another one of them. You’re there with your team, it’s like a sisterhood. Whinging about a bit of a sore ankle? Seeing your teammate with bruises covering her shins still going hard at it and the other one whose ankle is swollen will soon shut your mouth. Moreover, rugby is a rising sport- particularly for women. You realise how important what you’re doing is and you see that through the support you get from your teammates, your coaches and friends and family who support the club and the sport in general.
-People have got your back regardless
You’re there with your teammates. You’re basically a family. You support each other, you help each other out. Again, it’s like a sisterhood. Both on the field and off the field, your team’s got your back. I don’t know, maybe I picked the right club and was lucky with the group of girls I now call my teammates. But I know for a fact that once you’re on the same team, you’ve got each other’s bags.
I played my second game the other day and I have to admit it was a pretty big improvement from my first game. With experience, comes the skill. I mean, I did duck and swerve away from a girl twice my size so I guess that’s a teeny tiny personal victory for now. Sure, I still made mistakes but after all it was just my second game. The fact I’m sore now and have a couple of bruises and a sore neck just points out that I did a lot more yesterday than I did last week. It’s only up from here.