[JOURNAL] My first season with the predominantly straight rugby team.

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    Nov 09, 2007 8:14 PM GMT
    This will be a frequent account of my experience with my new rugby team, which is predominantly striaght. My last team was predominantly gay.

    Whether it's experiences at practices, matches, social events, or even away-from-club conditioning, skills acquisition, nutrition, etc., this is where it all goes.

    Playing rugby as a gay man used to be my activism. I liked to change minds in areas of Texas that had little exposure to (out) gay people, let alone athletic ones. Nowadays, it's more about my game and how I can better be an important cog in a cohesive team unit.

    Hope it interests some of you.
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    Nov 09, 2007 9:09 PM GMT
    Cool, Rugger, looking forward to your posts!
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    Nov 09, 2007 9:19 PM GMT
    I got run over awkwardly at the end of the last match. This was mainly due to lack of conditioning. I got rapped in the head hard enough to snap my head back and make lots of little crackling noises down my neck. However, it put my neck back into alignment after a couple of years of favoring one side. Yay free chiropractic! But the Gorbachev-like bruise on my face was annoying, as I had to ice it down frequently during the drinkup (more later on the drinkup).

    But the real problem was the awkward leg twist, which knotted up my already fatigued left calf muscle. Now every time I run my calf muscles feel like they are about to knot up, or they actually do in the case of last night's closing sprints at practice. My hammies are underdeveloped, which probably contributes to this.

    Aside from staying well hydrated every day, I'm trying to figure out how I can keep my calf muscles from failing me.

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    Nov 09, 2007 9:21 PM GMT
    I'll definitely want to read more. I think being a proud gay man (but not wearing it on your sleeve) in traditionally "straight" roles is a powerful form of activism.

    Have fun!
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    Nov 09, 2007 9:26 PM GMT
    Rugby...now there's a game with some testosterone. Crazy fuckers. You can get hurt.

    Actually, everyone I know that plays rugby ends up with broken bones. Don't forget to tell us about that part of the action.

    Any of those straight guys asks you how it feels, just say "neato." That'll get them right past it.
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    Nov 09, 2007 9:36 PM GMT
    Haven't seen any broken bones yet this season. This after witnessing five games and about 140 players.

    With good technique you can remain injury-free. Problem is, most gay teams play division III level rugby, where technique is lacking and injuries are far more numerous. Not sure what level your friends play at, chucky.

    Nobody is 100% injury proof though, and rugby does give you bruises and scrapes. Meh.
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    Nov 10, 2007 6:13 AM GMT
    I guess my problem was always technique and insufficient awareness. My back was always getting hurt.. the one problem with lower back probs is that when you apply lots of "deep heat" and sit infront of the fire... the "deep heat" runs down your crack and burns yr asshole - i hated that......
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    Nov 14, 2007 8:03 PM GMT
    I missed practice yesterday and there's a match this weekend against a fairly beatable team. I was really looking forward to playing in this match. I'm sick with a head/chest somethingorother and starting antibiotics, but hope to practice tomorrow night and at least play 40 minutes on Saturday. No drinkup for me though. :-(

    My conditioning has been less than desireable this season and I haven't done anything to improve it this week. Oh well...I'm now looking towards the spring ( after 1/1/08 ) for a good full-tilt stretch of rugby. Fall has been sort of a half-involved season for me. Just two more matches before Christmas break.
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    Nov 19, 2007 7:25 PM GMT
    I never made it to the match this past weekend. My lungs haven't cleared at all, so I would have only lasted five minutes or so.

    I just read the match report and my club lost by 12 points, with the ref citing "poor tackling" in the backline on the part of my team as possibly the difference.

    If there's anything I've done well this season, it's play good backline defense and help the rest of the backline play together as a defensive unit. I wonder if we might have won with a little more leadership back there (yes, I'm propping myself up).

    I'm also wondering if there are some "I told you so"s being passed about behind my back...you know...gay guy joins the straight team and can't keep up. But it's useless for me to think like that.

    We've got a real test in two weeks...the biggest roughest club in South Texas comes to town. I should be ready though.
  • joggerva

    Posts: 731

    Nov 19, 2007 8:05 PM GMT
    Good luck Rugger, hope you are in tip top shape by then! Don't worry about what might be said behind your back; most of the time that's just our own insecurities. Get well!
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    Nov 28, 2007 1:27 AM GMT
    Following this with interest, Rugger.

    I start my off-season summer touch rugby competition this weekend. It's a mixed team with straight/gay/lesbians - so pretty diverse.

    I'm probably a bit out of condition because our annual gay and lesbian festival just finished (too many beers over that fortnight!)

    Anyway, don't want to hijack your thread. Good luck with your progress.

    pete
  • stevarino7

    Posts: 149

    Nov 28, 2007 2:25 AM GMT
    I think that playing on a straight team would definitely help with your game. From what I have seen, straight teams have more people at practices and more people showing up to games. Atleast it has been my experience here in Boston.

    After playing on a gay team, I think I have too much fun with the guys to leave them for a straight team though. I really like the social aspect and being able to get a lot of playing time in. Though I would get better at the game most lkely if I were on a straight team, I just really enjoy the gay team I am on.

    I hope that your new team teaches you lots. It is a great sport...and hopefully you aren't too hurt from the hard hit. Goodluck rugger.
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Nov 28, 2007 3:55 AM GMT
    Great topic Rugger! I hope you are feeling better. When I was in school, I hung out with a few guys (straight) who played rugby on a club team at our university (Michigan State). They were CRAZY!!!! They wanted me to play because I was short and fast at the time and they said that I would be hard to tackle. If I would have got hurt, my parents would have killed me, so I declined their offer. I was already playing softball and basketball too, my 2 favorite sports at that time! Good luck in the future! I hope you are having fun! PS- if your left calf is still sore, I think you would have many volunteers here who would help you by massaging it. It is just the humanitarian in all of us here! icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 02, 2007 1:19 AM GMT
    Haha...thanks guys. I've had some sort of infection in my chest and missed a couple of weeks of practice, but it's clearing so I went out and played touch with my club today. It was lots of fun and the trash talk is way better when the coaching staff is away. Speaking of which, the trash talk included racist stuff about a french guy, a mexican, the black dude on the team who scores at least a try a game, and yes, gay jokes. Notice I didn't say homophobic. Most of the guys aren't homophobic, and know my deal. They're just immature, which is cool, because I am too. The point is to be politically incorrect and take each other down a peg, in the spirit of keeping guys humble (very un-gridiron). Of course, I'd like the gay jokes to be directed at me instead of the other straight guys. That would be a bit more in line with the rest of the trash talk, but I'm not necessarily there to be validated so it's all good.

    Anyway, I threw some lousy passes and some good passes, and had the dummy working well and thus drawing the defense for some nice little offloads to support. I had a nice little one-handed grab and go too. As a back I need to play more touch and get these skills working a bit better.

    One more week until the big bad McAllen boys come to town!
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    Dec 02, 2007 1:20 AM GMT
    You guys can hijack the thread all you want. I would encourage you to start your own [JOURNAL] thread though if you want to keep a running log of your season.
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    Dec 02, 2007 1:31 AM GMT
    I promised more about the drinkup from the last match I played:

    I don't want to give away too much, as you never know what self-righteous freaks might be trolling. Heh...two straight guys forced to run into a gay bar naked for their free tequila shots. Hilarious.

    Rugby. Keeping Austin weird since '67. ;-)
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Dec 02, 2007 3:29 AM GMT
    Sounds like you guys have alot of fun Rugger! Your teammates seem to be great guys!! I hope you take those Big Bad McAllen boys down a peg or two!!
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    Dec 10, 2007 4:42 PM GMT
    My team took a tough loss this weekend. Many tries were scored against us, with repeated overloads in the backline that our forwards could not get out to defend. The opposing club took their big, fast #3 (about 6’5” and probably around 260), and ran him repeatedly at me (I was inside center). Sometimes I tackled him, sometimes I and one or two others tackled him, and a couple of times I felt like one of those little fish attached to a fast moving giant shark. I did some other things well, and was most proud of my blowing two opposing guys off a ruck and allowing our side to steal back the ball when the opposition was 3 meters from scoring. I threw a nice pass to our outside center, who unfortunately got crunched and broke his collar bone. I still feel guilty about it, no matter what other guys say about whether or not it was a hospital pass.

    The drinkup was okay. A long-time rugger who was, shall we say, very affectionate for an apparent straight guy, was lecturing me intensely about my jogging around too much, assessing the field, and positioning myself and others instead of attacking more. He said my vocal leadership doesn’t match my effort. I replied that when I moved to fly-half two seasons ago I was taught to stay out of any breakdown that wasn’t right in front of me, and that basically becoming fly-half ruined my game. When I was flanker and inside center before becoming a fly-half, I was way more aggressive. I’m inside center again, however, and need to find that hell-bent aggression again, especially now that I am on a team where I can better trust that support will be there (offensive and defensive). So needless to say I appreciated the harsh words because I think the other guys have been going easy on me.

    Anyway, I played another 80 minutes of rugby (only planned on 40), which makes any weekend a good weekend no matter what. Got me a black eye too, which was a nice touch when I was all dressed up for a Christmas party later Saturday night.

    Six weeks until my next match (well, matches...the Austin Rugby Tournament). This is going to take some discipline, because if I am going to come out more aggressive this spring (January counts as spring, in the Texas rugby world), I need keep from getting soft, slow, or achy.
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    Dec 18, 2007 10:33 PM GMT
    hey bud, I was just reading your journal and its something very similar to what I am doing down here. I have a blog and I write about me and my experiences. Its kinda a way of saying to other gay guys that play that they are not alone, there are guys that are gay that play this sport.
    keep it up ;)
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    Dec 18, 2007 10:49 PM GMT
    Can we have the link to your blog? It sounds interesting. Cheers.
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    Jan 18, 2008 10:57 PM GMT
    It kills me, but I had to retire from rugby a couple of weeks ago. I discovered that you cannot start a new career, own a home by yourself, raise a puppy, find a husband, all while trying to play a sport that doesn't pay any money, requires top fitness, has a social scene too far removed from any husband finding opportunities, and alters an entire weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. For me rugby was less a hobby than a second career, yet it doesn't pay the bills, especially in gridiron-dominated USA. I cannot invest very much in it though without continuing to put the rest of my life on hold. I have work peers back in the northeast and they're doing amazing things while I'm just keeping a cool job.

    Rugby did teach me some things over the five years I played. It taught me to push myself through discomfort, that I'm resilient, and that I'm braver than I thought. It made me both more mature and more child-like, both in good ways. It made me both more humble and more confident. It made me unashamed of my naked body as well as my singing voice. I met folks from all over the world. I helped change minds for folks who had preconceived notions of what being a gay man is. I saw confused young guys find themselves.

    I feel liberated in that I am free to invest in my future, as well as spend time doing all the other things on my interest list on my own terms. My career growth will be the biggest benefit though.

    All this being said, I already miss the game terribly. Oh how I miss it.
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    Jan 18, 2008 11:21 PM GMT
    Rugger,

    ...your entire thread was impressive and inspiring!

    Thanks.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Jan 18, 2008 11:30 PM GMT
    Rugger,

    so sorry to hear that you had to give it up, I have enjoyed reading about your experiences. It's tough to let go of your passion (music in my case).

    I almost became a rugby team manager back in college. I was drinking in the Suds n' Suds in the basement of the dorm (laundromat with beer taps, go figure), and basically got adopted by all these big, burly straight boys because I could hold my liquor as well as any of them (I was a painfully skinny kid back then, so actually playing was not an option). They knew I was gay but liked having me around anyway. I ended up not doing it, and have always had a twinge of regret whenever I remember it.

    Best of luck to you - maybe you'll get a chance to play again, or start coaching a kids team once you get some kids of your own...
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Jan 19, 2008 8:57 PM GMT
    I concur with Jarhead and Venice man Rugger! I am sorry that you had to give up this sport that you loved. I was also inspired by your journal here. I gave up basketball a few years ago because of the wear and tear it was having on my body! (it sucks to get old!! LOL!). I have been playing competitive wallyball the last few years to satisfy my competitive urges. Hopefully, you can find another competitive outlet that is not so time consuming as rugby was for you! Good luck! icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jan 19, 2008 9:09 PM GMT
    Rugby is a great sport. I played on the mostly-gay Minneapolis Mayhem, but it does take up a lot of your time and I'm not really as competitive as I feel I should be for it.

    Playing for fun is one thing, playing to win is something entirely different for me.