So I had rugby practice last night and we did a tackling drill. We learned three new tackles that not only will help us get the defender down but will also help in winning the ball back so we can go for the try. For those unfamiliar with rugby, when a player is tackled, he MUST give up the ball. No if, ands, or buts about it.
The first one involved taking the player, twisting him around so the ball could be stripped out by our team member. The second involved taking the player down by the knees and using their momentum to carry him forward. The final one pretty much involved shoving the guy to the ground, again using their momentum.
Poor Toby. I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into. Toby, I guesstimate, is about 6'3, maybe 190, and pretty quick and definitely strong. The first few times we really weren't that physical because I think we just knew that at some point the ball would have been stripped out within seconds. Then we started throwing each other to the ground. During one tackle, I accidentally stuck my fingers up Toby's nose and we thought it was bleeding but not severly. Of course, I apologized profusely (which is something I will not be doing to the opposition). After one tackle, Toby got up and said, "You really know how to use your weight!" I will say this, though, for as good as I gave to Toby, he gave it right back to me. I was determined to power past him and score a try and came within inches of doing so before I was taken down. And do mean mere inches. I have more than a few bruises starting to form just from where Toby grabbed me in the drill.
There's something really cool going on with me and rugby. It's been giving me more confidence in that I do have these abilities that I have denied for so long. I am still a rather strong guy and one tough mofo when I need to be. For a guy who just touched a rugby ball for the first time last week, Steve, one of the coaches, is turning me into his pet project. He told me last night that I have the potential to be a great rugby player. Heck, I was shooting for just good or at least competent. There's something oddly satisfying about going out, running your brains out (cardio vascular conditioning is my off-season training requirement), and feeling great about it (not to mention coughing your brains out) afterwards.
Also, let's admit it...we are a gay rugby team. There's something even more satisfying in going out and doing something that is diametrically opposed to the perceptions and stereotypes of gay men. Yes, we do have a few nelly moments here and there, but for the most part, we get out there and play as hard as we can. Even if I suck as a player or we don't do well as a team, I can see this entire experience making me a better person.