The Return to Rugby Has Been Rough, Yet Rewarding
It's been about eight years, but I finally came out of retirement to hit the rugby pitch once again.
Just about a month ago, I was sitting at a small local bar in Westport, enjoying a cold one after being out on the kayak all day. As I was sitting there, a guy roughly around my age to my right asked me if I've ever played rugby before. I simply laughed softly and said, "Yeah. I've played."
Little did he know that I started rugby back in 2006 and played for six good, long years before I hung up my cleats, not knowing that I'd be taking them down again at some point down the road.
He introduced himself and told me his name was Art.
"Well," Art replied, "You ever think about joining the Providence Rugby Club?"
I remember simply smiling, shaking my head slowly back in forth in a "no way in hell" sort of fashion. It had not only been far too long since I had last played, but I was also skeptical about how much more damage I was willing to put my body through.
However, I sat there pondering the invite, reminiscing on my rugby career and how much I've been longing to get back into the game.
"Come onnnn, guyyyy," Art said as he patted my shoulder. "What do you got to lose?"
In an odd way, he was right. I mean, besides my job from an injury or worse, but that just comes with the physicality and the contact of the sport itself.
What did I have to lose? Answer: nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.
If it meant that my return to rugby made me happy and allowed me to put any excuse I had to not play again to rest, then perhaps Art was right.
"I'm in," I said softly, but a bit unsure. Once more, I said, "I'm IN!" this time more robust and with confidence. "You have my word, I'll see you next week at practice."
After picking up a brand new pair of cleats, shorts and a gallon of water, I strapped on my boots (rugby term for cleats) and took a few steps onto the field. Right at that moment, I felt an abundance of happiness and adrenaline, all wrapped up in one feeling, overcoming me.
"I'm home," I thought to myself and started running to break in the stiff cleats, gradually picking up speed into an all-out sprint.
It was invigorating, to say the least. From that moment forward, I dove into the practices head first and just like riding a bike, I picked up the ball once more and didn't skip a beat.
Yeah, it's been a bit painful and my feet are covered in blood and bruises beneath the blisters, but my feet are soft right now and will soon toughen up like they once were years ago.
To this day, I have credited the shape of my character to the sport of rugby. It made me a gentleman who was developed from a game compiled of respect, integrity, perseverance, and toughness–and I wouldn't want it any other way.
I may be bruised, beaten up, blistered and bloody, but I'm back and boy does it feel so good.