The tournament was hosted by my team, the mighty Gotham Knights RFC of New York City. A lot of B roll footage is from that tournament, and you can see us in our yellow-and-blue jerseys running around with that silly white ball kicking up dust across the abominable rugby pitches on Randall’s Island. Oh, it was hot that weekend, and it was still only spring!
Everything the Fog and Convict players say about their teams, their teammates, their own experiences, the ideals of the sport itself, and the way the game is coached and played is mirrored absolutely equally among all teams around the world.
One morning recently, I nearly fell over when an intense, sharp, pain shot through my ankle. I was putting on a sock or playing with the cat or something; I don’t remember. But I’m only 31! I’m far too young to be falling apart.
And then it was gone.
Minutes later, when I was walking to the bus, it hit again, but a little less intensely. It stems from a two-year-old rugby injury. I rolled my ankle this summer at a practice. We were in Central Park, and an officious little groundskeeper was busying himself by whizzing by on his little golf cart every 15 minutes to yell at us for running on the open lawn of the North Meadow.
We weren’t wearing spikes, which are verboten by the Central Park Conservancy. And we were taking up very little space in the corner under some trees, far away from the baseball diamonds, where nobody goes anyway. But I guess we’re not allowed to use a ball larger than a softball or to run on the grass. It defies explanation.
So this groundskeeper finally succeeded in chasing us outside of the fenced region to a downward-sloping area of patchy grass, tree roots and the odd broken bottle. We made do with this until I was chasing down someone during a game of touch, missed a step on the side of the hill, and went down hard.
My teammate made his try. I, on the other hand, spent the next 10 minutes on the ground in a quivering heap of agony. As I was contorting myself into various death throes, I considered how my life might change should I need to amputate my right foot. I wouldn’t look that bad with a prosthesis, right? At least not in the winter. With long pants. And boots.
This is the same foot that sent me into physical therapy when I screwed up my plantar fascia the previous season. As a result, my right foot is considerably weaker than the left — and prone to ankle injuries.
The physical therapy got me in the habit of stretching really well. But it’s never been quite the same since. Not three blocks from my apartment, I tripped on a jutting corner of sidewalk while coming to a stop at a red light and rolled the same ankle. Can’t catch a break.
So now I have these recurring pains. And a new season brings new aches. What keeps me sane is the blessing of regenerative tissue.
But I curse this body sometimes. I’ve spent 30 years actively not conditioning my body to take this kind of stress. Coming to athletics so late in my life puts me at particular risk. But I love it, so I keep with it.
This is why kids should play sports. It makes their bodies grow in ways that will help them later. Note to self: When we have a kid of our own, he will play something. I won’t push him to anything in particular. My parents never pushed me to anything, which I have always been thankful for. But I will definitely push him toward choosing something he likes.
Mr Poots said he could not understand the motivation behind the founding of the Belfast-based Ulster Titans.
“I just cannot fathom why people see the necessity to develop an apartheid in sport,” he said.
However, one of the team’s founders, Declan Lavery, said everyone was welcome to join the club. “When the club was set up it welcomed members regardless of their age, creed, religion, sexual orientation or whatever, and that’s how it continues,” Mr Lavery said.
However, Mr Poots said: “It would be unacceptable to produce an all-black rugby team or an all-white team or an all-Chinese team.
“To me it’s equally unacceptable to produce an all-homosexual rugby team and I find it remarkable that people who talk so much about inclusivity and about having an equal role in society would then go down the route of exclusion.”
This is just willful idiocy.
The facts are plain:
The team was founded by gay men.
Everyone is welcome to join whether they’re gay or not.
It is not a gays-only team. There is no exclusion.
Yet his response is to call this apartheid. Is he even listening? Maybe he’d rather have the pootfers just keep their traps shut.
To call this “apartheid” is not only an insult to all the gay men who joined that team because they felt unwelcome elsewhere, but also to all people who really do experience exclusion. It’s precisely this kind of hostility that leads to the formation of gay-friendly sports teams in the first place.
Reading about the recent death of marathoner Ryan Shay, it strikes me how incredibly out of shape I am yet how relatively unbothered I am about it. At age 28, at the top of his game, he collapsed at the 2008 Olympic Marathon trials.
It absolutely can happen to anyone. Yet how disgusting that it should happen to him. If the good Lord comes ringing for me before my time, I hope I have the good sense to screen my calls.
He is from a family of runners, which I take as a testament to the dearth of amusements available to a growing boy up in Central Lake, Michigan, population 1,000. Every sibling runs or has run. His sister stills holds some sort of obscene high school record. Plus his parents coach. Is it dedication or obsession? Whatever it is, it’s bloody impressive.
“Trials” is an appropriate word. In today’s Times article about the tragedy, his coach’s training scheme for such trials is described thus: a 14-week training period, peaking at about 130 to 140 miles of training a week, with workouts including 8 x 1 mile at 4:45 to 4:50 pace at 7,000 feet (in Arizona) with two minutes’ rest in between.
Yikes! (Two minutes’ rest? They are so fat and lazy. What hope do they have?)
People who are driven to be the best at what they do have to work for it, no doubt. And I respect that. But I don’t want nearly as much. So I am perfectly content not to work nearly as hard as Ryan Shay, who can run a marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes, proposed to.
Even a friend of mine, finishing last weekend’s New York Marathon in 4:09 (a personal best for him, I think), leaves me in the dust. I wouldn’t even try it. I detest running. I can’t even think of something I enjoy doing for four hours and nine minutes!
I am just this side of hopeless. Truly, I miss my rugby team, which dragged me kicking and screaming into the best shape of my life over the last couple of years. Having taken a season away from the team, I am reduced with amazing speed to a quivering white pudding, winded by the staircase ascent from the subway, aware of every aching joint and wondering how long it will be before I end up an Old Man. This is how it starts! I think.
UPDATE: I stand corrected. From the horse’s mouth: 4:04:27. Yikes!
UPDATE: The game will be at Wassening Park in Bloomfield, NJ, at 1 p.m. on 10/27. See gothamrfc.org for directions.
Following their defeat of Fordham University’s Old Maroon RFC 41-5 on Saturday October 20, 2007, the Gotham Knights will advance to the the final round of the New York Metropolitan Rugby Union Division III playoffs this coming Saturday.
This is unprecedented for a gay rugby team in New York, or rather, a gay team that plays rugby. But since we’ve got a few straight guys on board, we can’t really say that, so we say “predominantly gay.” Which is fine by me, because even that is unprecedented. The win last weekend also makes us the first such team to play in the Northeast Rugby Union championship tournament in he spring, the first stage of the USA Rugby national championship playoffs.
And, wouldn’t you know it, this happens during a season I happen not to be playing. (Maybe these two things are not unrelated…)
The championship game will be played at Brookdale Park in Montclair, NJ. I won’t be there, because I’ll be cleaning house for my husband’s birthday party. But I will be on pins and needles waiting for that email from someone’s Blackberry. Stay tuned.
Dangerous play. Do not tackle like this. Do not get tackled like this. [godsofsport.com]
My 9th grade world history teacher said the most basic sign of civilization is plumbing. He proposed that, looking back on world history, we cannot consider a people to be civilized unless they had devised a way to pipe poop away from where people lived.
I propose that a people cannot be considered civilized until they have a rugby team. Before Rugby, England, 1823, we were just sort of messing around. Wheel. Fire. Feh. Rugby? OK, now we’re getting somewhere.
The Madison, Wisconsin, LGBT community is stepping up to join the world with a new rugby team. So far unofficially named, Madison Gay Rugby had their first team meeting on March 10 with the help of the Minneapolis Mayhem and the Chicago Dragons. They got an impressive 23 men to show up, which is good for a training session on an established team. (According to Madison team spokesman Shawn Neal, the Dragons saw 13 at their first meeting, and the Mayhem drew only eight.)
An auspicious beginning, Madison. Best of luck to you! Can’t wait to meet you on the pitch!