“Why are they passing the ball backwards?” I asked my dad, confounded by the absolute lack of field progression in rugby. I tried my best to transfer my teenage knowledge of American gridiron to the concepts of rugby but nothing seemed to make sense.
After a while I consigned myself to the fact that nothing on the rugby pitch would ever make sense until I actually gave the game a shot. I was horrible, but while running with my friends who did their best to explain the rules to me I realized there was so much about the game that helped me physically, applied to me personally and developed a bond on a team that was unlike anything that I had experienced my entire life. Even in the stands as a member of the student body at Pesega there was a thrill in the air every time our schools team took the field from the lower levels to our varsity First XV. Rugby it seemed, was the ultimate team sport.
My love for rugby runs deep. When other kids were dreaming of the NBA or a stint in the NFL, I was wondering how I could somehow increase my speed and strength to get one of the very rare professional contracts in Europe or down in the southern hemisphere. It never happened (something about lack of talent) but it did not dampen my adoration for the sport.
It also didn’t stop me from indoctrinating my sons into the sports. I’m afraid my fanaticism has come at a cost – my boys would rather play rugby now than any other sport on the earth. I’ve succeeded, but at what cost?
This weekend we have made our annual trek to the USA Sevens tournament. I have missed only one year since the IRB Sevens Series included the USA in 2004 and only because there were things in my personal life that took precedence. My eldest son has joined me since 2007 and the boys have been joining me for every subsequent tournament since.
It’s still all about rugby for my sons but for me, it has taken on a whole new meaning for many years now. The USA Sevens still gives me a chance to watch representative teams from the best rugby nations in the world. Nothing can beat the pure exhilaration of watching athletes in their prime play their hearts out for pride and for their respective country. But the deeper meaning for me now lies in spending time with dear friends and more importantly, spending quality time with my sons.
We can’t wait to get down to Las Vegas this evening (we are in Saint George, Utah right now to watch No. 1 son play a friendly rugby match to kick-off the school rugby season). We can hardly contain hardly wait to watch some quality seven-a-side rugby. But more importantly we can’t wait to get out there and enjoy our time together as family and friends.
More to come from the USA Sevens.