98 Days and counting…

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

The past weekend not only provided us a chance to celebrate our fathers but also to bid a fond farewell to the rugby season. We had perfect weather for the last day.  The skies were blue, the sun was shining, and it was 22 C.  Zachary had a blast running around and introducing himself to every dog he could find.  He even took the time to stop and smell the grass.  Jackson played a great couple of games.  His tackling skills are shaping up nicely… Sarah would be proud.  During the second game he got hurt. His leg got twisted the wrong way during a tackle, but he got back up and kept playing.  He did pretty well limping down the field (oh, sorry – it’s called a pitch) and almost ripped the ball from the other team.  After the games the kids got free lunch and played on the bounce houses.  Zachary was enthralled with the one that looked like a big red dog – he loves Clifford.  Once he finally got in to jump he didn’t want to leave.  Jackson was still recovering from his injury so I didn’t have to worry about trying to get him out of the inflatable obstacle course.  They were both so tired after it was over that they quickly crashed in the car.

It was bittersweet walking out to the parking lot knowing that we wouldn’t be back for another year.  I know that Brandon and I enjoyed watching the games as much as Jackson enjoyed playing them. His team did really well throughout the season – only losing a couple of games.  There’s a lot to be learned from watching a bunch of 11 year olds run around like psychotics who missed one too many doses of medicine.  I have a whole new vocabulary now including scrum, ruck, and prop – not to mention a new definition of the term, hooker.  Over the course of the season I’ve learned that the numerous similarities between American football and rugby existed in my mind.  Rugby is a “make it-take it” kind of game.  I was really confused when I realized that the other team had scored the two most recent tries and yet we continued to kick off to them. When I asked the coach he told me that in rugby, a team is rewarded for getting a try by getting the ball back.  I thought this to be potentially unfair if one team is far superior to the other. One other key difference is if you run out of bounds (or are pushed out), it’s a turnover and the clock does not stop.  This action is not the useful strategy it is in American football.  The divide between these two sports widens when watching the older teams play.  Imagine, if you would, watching a game where one player is running with the ball.  He gets tackled and then a giant shoving match occurs as members of both teams dog pile the fallen player.  The rucks and scrums inthis game are real and you fight for possession rather then just going through the motions (as in Jackson’s age group).  The game continues on and at one point one team has to throw the ball inbounds. Right as they toss the ball in, a player from each team is thrown up in the air and battle for possession once again ensues, only this time at a higher altitude. When I first witnessed this, my mind immediately jumped to cheerleaders (but don’t tell the players that).  Jackson’s hope is that he will be a jumper when he gets older.  I consulted my personal rugby encyclopedia – Volumes I (Sarah) and II (Steph) and learned that Jackson has the build to be a jumper (he tends to take after his dad).  I found that rugby and life in general had similarities.  As in life, there are a few people in rugby that don’t play fair and take every underhanded opportunity to get ahead. However in rugby, you have the right to take those people down to the ground (just not by the neck – that’s a penalty).

I would like to thank Jackson’s coaches, especially Coach Bob.  The Saracens were so large that they could split the team up and the boys were able to get more playing time.  Jackson somehow managed to always be with Coach Bob.  My respect for this man has grown every week.  Being a coach’s daughter I know how difficult it can be to work with kids.  A coach has to juggle the parents’ desire both to win and have their kid get excess playing time, the kids excitement for the win (along with other attributes that kids will display from time-to-time), and his own competitiveness.  For my dad, coaching Junior Varsity was the best fit because he could let every kid play and not have to focus on winning as much.  Coach Bob also saw to it that each player had equal amount of time on the field and took every opportunity to teach the kids.  He did an excellent job of not belittling them when a mistake was made, but pointing out what was done wrong and what needed to be done next time.  He also never showed his growing frustration to the kids when another coach acted unsportsmanlike (or didn’t want the kids to wear toques when it was 0 C).   After every game he would single out each player with something they did well that game – great runs, good tackling, good passes, etc…  I think too often people don’t acknowledge times when something is done right, but we are quick to point out when something is done wrong.

I’ve joked around that Jackson is choosing sports that I know nothing about so that he doesn’t have to worry about me being a sideline coach.  I’ll never forget that day at T-ball practice so many years ago where I was put in my place by my 6 year old.  He was playing first base and I was telling him how to do something better when he turned to look at me.  “Mom, we have three coaches and they are all out on the field!”  I’m glad that he’s participating in fencing and rugby… I can focus on being a mom and celebrating the triumphs and mourning the losses with my child and his team rather than trying to “help” him become a better player.

Jackson is planning to continue with rugby and who knows what his future will hold.  According to Coach Bob, Texas A&M has a great rugby team and he knows a couple of Aggies in Calgary that recruit for the program.  Jackson told the coach that his mom did her undergrad there at A&M.  We heard a little about the program and Jackson’s smile got wider and wider.  His eyes brightened at the thought of not only going back to Texas for college – but to also get to play rugby!  I guess MawMaw, ManMan, and Aunt Kimberly better look and see if that other school in Texas has a rugby program.

When first discussing the possibility of Jackson playing rugby with Sarah, she tried to explain not only the game to me, but also how rugby affects all aspects of a person’s life.  I had no idea what she was talking about (having never seen a rugby game) so I thought of it in terms that I could understand: The Spirit of Aggieland – “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it.  And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”  She was right when she said, “Rugby – you either love it or hate it… and if you love it, it gets in your blood.”  I’m already counting down the days until next season.


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