Frosty pitch

November 29, 2005 at 12:28 am | Posted in personal, rugby | 4 Comments

It’s minus four degrees outside, there is a frost forming. How do I know this? because I was there. Running about with an egg shaped ball as the grass slowly crystallised at my feet. Yes, I was playing rugby.

The predictions currently hold that this year will be one of the coldest years on record, what a perfect time I thought, to start playing rugby again. This is a game that despite being as English as I am, I learnt to play when on placement in Giessen Germany.

I was sat with some friends of varying nationalities in the student bar in Germany, when the waitress who was German, noticed my accent and proclaimed “you’re English!”. Excited at the prospect of bringing a real Brit back to their rugby practice, (despite zero experience on my part) she then told me of their team (URC Giessen) who were enthusiastic but limited in size, and their coach who was a fellow Brit in Deutschland.

I firmly believe that everyone should take any opportunity to do something, anything, that scares you. One thing that scared me was that first practice, a foreign country where I did not speak the language, playing an unknown game that by all accounts was really rough. I should explain, my history with exercise has not been a harmonious one. At school I very conveniently had ‘exercised induced asthma’ which was my excuse on many a P.E. lesson or ‘cross country day’.

There were however, a few sports I did try with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success. Hiking on Dartmoor was a favourite for quite a while as I trained with the Clyst Vale Community College Ten Tors team for just over four years. I also dallied in Tennis outside of school for a bit, before I realised that I really hated summer sports – sunshine and exercise don’t sit well together.

Girls didn’t play rugby at school and other than a few half hearted attempts at playing badminton or going to the gym, people didn’t play sport at all during college. University was hugely different, at the University of Bath everyone played many varying types of sport. Everyone that is, except us computer scientists, who (with a few exceptions) were put off by the fact that in order to get fit, we would have to be around fit people. Anyone coming to sport late in life will doubtless share this opinion.

So, from the context I’m sure you can understand that I was pretty darned scared by rugby initially, not purely of the exercise but the apparent brutality in comparison to say, hiking. In fact when I first got tackled I squeaked out of shock, this earned me the nickname ‘Meerschweinchen’ [Guinea pig] which was fortunate as the only German I knew at that time really was “Ich bin ein meerschweinchen”.

I grew to love the game though, being a winter sport there was little chance of having to run in 40 degree heat. I found the egg shaped ball a lot easier to catch than a netball, tackling was great fun and though the rules to this day still perplex me, I really enjoyed it and found a niche as a hooker (still maintaining a-fore mentioned nickname)for our small sevens team.

me playing rugby

The experience was fantastic, some of my happiest memories are playing training or drinking with the rugby team in Giessen, or training with various friends roped into things like jogging for miles the night before a match and even ball handling practice in the kitchen.

Back at university, in a country home to the sport I had learnt to play, I joined Bath University Ladies Rugby Team. I went to the initiation and one practice but the sheer size of the team threw me completely, that and the effort of finishing my degree at the same time. Coming from a team of 9 playing 7’s I was suddenly in a team of over 50 playing 15’s, quite a culture shock.

Now that I have moved to Oxford and settled in a little, (Ive been here nearly 2 months now) I decided to give the game another go. Sunday two weeks ago I played in my first 15’s match, 35 mins each way is an awful lot longer than our tournaments of 6 games 7 minutes each side. I play sub for the forwards at the moment as I am new, I was put on as Flanker in the last game, it is a good position to play and is quite fun but I think given the choice I would still prefer to play Hooker. I’m really enjoying playing rugby again despite the cold, Oxford Ladies Rugby team has about 18ish players and although we play 15’s and I never did understand the rules even for sevens, I am slowly adjusting.



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  1. So glad that you’ve found another team to play with and are enjoying it again. I must say, I’ll never forget that MSN conversation just before your first practice where I was trying to explain the rules of rugby to you! I only realised after you started posting photos later on that you were playing 7-a-side so most of my advice must have been pretty useless!

  2. Hi,

    Stumbled on your post, well what can I say? Nice one.

  3. Great blog. Check out this rugby site:
    rugby lessons

  4. Hi Nat

    I will circulate this round the new URC email list not sure if you are still on it.

    glad to hear you still play.


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