My BFF4EVA Bro Addition was in town this weekend from Chicago for a rugby tournament, thus I spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday driving back and forth from Manassas. My love and affection for Barrington* is so strong that I even did so willingly. Twice. Being that I am allergic to everything green and outdoors from April — September and think Manassas is hell on earth, that is a lot of affection. I was also very excited to watch his games.
I played rugby in college for 3 years and was even was the president of the club my senior year— mostly because no one else wanted the job, not because I was particularly apt for the position. My college’s version of rugby was more so an exercise in losing gracefully and excelling at drinking games, as opposed to the sport itself.
We usually didn’t have a coach, which meant practices were often abandoned for wing night at the pub. If you weren’t starting, beers were cracked and cigarettes were lit on the sidelines until you had to go in. Games were followed by socials, which was one of my favorite aspects of the rugby. No matter the amount of ass kicking that took place on the pitch (field), the opposing teams would bond over pizza, beer and rugby songs afterwards.
Rugby is a confusing sport for those who have never played— and no amount of explaining or scratch diagrams can truly explain the rules. Rookies learn by being shoved in a position and told to wing it. The tradition and community involved is also like none other. Just like Minnesotans love other Minnesotans, rugby players love other rugby players. I think I joined for the tackling and stayed for the parties— plus the 50+ automatic friends.
There are many rights of passage as a rugby player. The first time you score a try (touchdown), which I did during the last game I ever played in, there is zuluing that must take place. Your zulu options are as follows: either drink beer out of a boot (cleat) that your teammates spit in or run naked across the field chasing after a punted ball. If there are more than one of you zuluing, whoever catches the ball doesn’t have to take a naked lap around the pitch.
Fueled mostly by beer and some words of encouragement, I chose the naked run— in front of 4 rugby teams, many parents/spectators and about 100 yards from Lake Shore Drive. To this day, I would pick running naked across the field over drinking out of an old boot and quite frankly, I’m sure you would too.
My favorite rookie at the time, John, went out to dinner with his parents following the game. It was their first rugby experience and were horrified at the public display of nudity. John’s mother told him that he should find a nice girl to date, “but not one of those rugby girls”.
I have photographic proof of this young and moderately drunk endeavor. I’m sure years from now I will cherish these pictures when I am old and wrinkly and my boobs hang down to my knees, but what strikes me now beyond the whoa girl— lay off the carbs/beer, is how happy I looked at that very moment.
I do miss rugby. Every spring I entertain the thought of joining a team in DC. And then I remember the bruises and the practices and that I’m not competitive whatsoever. But most importantly that my version of rugby— the lackadaisical beer drinking version— is not the real version. So for now, I’ll watch.
Mouth guards are so hot right now.
*Old rugby nickname— real name Mat. No mothers are that mean.