When I tell people that I play rugby I get a number of responses again and again, “oh goodness!”, a dropped jaw, or a number of questions about where, when and quite frankly, why? We even ask each other when we meet new players because for women and girls, rugby isn’t the most obvious sport to take up. It hasn’t always been the most accessible to women and girls. Times have changed since 2001, and now women’s rugby is the fastest growing sport in the UK right now.
So first of all, why? I had a number of people who knew me but not each other all suggest that maybe it would be a good sport for me to get things out in a healthy way. I struggle with managing anger and I used to struggle with anger more so than I do now. There have been times in my life where being angry literally drove me insane. Secondly, at the only Fresher’s Fair I went to, the rugby team table seemed much more welcoming than the other sports I was interested in. I didn’t sign up that year because I was anxious about injuring myself before London, but it remained in the back of my mind that I would like to try it out. So I did and now I have finished one season, I am hooked.
Here’s 15 reasons (one for each player on the pitch) why giving women’s rugby a go would be agreat idea from my experience of my first season:
- You will build your confidence, on the pitch and off; your new confidence will seep out into other areas of your life.
- You’ll find your voice, literally, you have to shout and holler for the ball and at your team mates. Screaming at your team mates as they run for the Try line is a wonderful feeling.
- There is a place for every body shape and size on the pitch: small and dainty to big and strong. If you’ve ever had hang ups about your body image rugby will make you appreciate what your body can do.
- You will get strong, feel strong, and want to be stronger.
- Rugby really is a game of getting knocked down 7 times and getting up 8: you will gain strength in your character and resilience to go with it.
- You won’t master the drills straight away, and once you start to see improvements it’s incredibly satisfying.
- You learn to fake it til you make it: you make eye contact to intimidate the opposition, you get ready on the pitch for kick off and it feels like lining up to battle. You learn to emit a bravery and couragousness that you may not naturally have – and after a while you start to have it.
- Resting in the evening of match day, when you are battered and bruised, aching and tired, is a wonderful feeling. You always sleep well after a match!
- Rugby is a sport of strength and resilience on the pitch and in the bar. It’s standard to have a pint after a match, and kind of rude not to.
- Adrenaline is your friend. Sometimes you’ll be marking someone on the opposing team who intimidates you on the pitch. You don’t want to stand in front of them, let alone take them down. In rugby you learn to channel this adrenaline and fear into excitement and courage.
- It’s a sport that really supports the “Fuck it!” mentality as an antidote to fear.
- You will push yourself with yoru team mates. There’s something special about being a part of a team.
- Sometimes it’s just absolute bants.
- Tackling is fun, and so is getting muddy. If the ground is a little bit wet, you can take comfort in your efforts by how muddy you got or did not get during the match.
- There’s always a Moose of the Match, or Dick of the Day – which keeps everyone in check because no-one wants to be gifted with a dirty pint on the regular. It’s also fun to sing the down in 8 song – sometimes a bit of peer pressure to drink up can be a good laugh!