Rugby vs. Life

Rugby vs. Life

I was introduced to this game called Rugby about five years ago, but I only started watching (relatively) seriously about two years ago. Before going any further, let me admit that I am not an expert or even an amateur at the sport. My role can be best described as a complete outsider cheering at the wrong times, wondering why other people are shouting at the right times and being completely lost most of the times while watching this very physical sport. So me writing something about Rugby is like Harbhajan Singh scoring a test hundred in cricket, but that has happen twice and consecutively at that so I feel confident while writing this. This is an attempt to take the little I know about Rugby and comparing it to the other game I know little about, life.

The ball is not round – One of the first things that I found quite different, and hence interesting, is the ball. It is not round. I have heard many players and supporters complaining about the ball and its awkward bounce. It may seem like common sense to suggest using a round ball, but this pseudo-oval shaped ball also has a purpose in the story. Life is not fair. Many best laid plans go wrong, just like this ball bounces unpredictably when it hits the ground. Sometimes the bounce is in your favour, other times it isn’t. A good player knows that the ball is unpredictable just like life, and his job is to play the game and not to complain about the ball not being fair.

Pass backwards to move forwards – In Rugby, you always have to pass back to a team mate. Forward passes are considered fouls and result in penalties. This can be related to life in the sense that you have to go back to the things you know while moving forward and tackling the things you don’t. Taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture rather than the piece of the puzzle in your hand is a good skill to have. It always helps to go back and analyse the steps that were taken, the decisions that were made and the results that followed. If the outcome was good, then we can learn the things that went right and vice versa. Yes, all of us would like to keep moving forward at a fast pace, but it is insightful to stop and take a look back.

Friends with beards and strange hair-dos – Every Rugby team seems to have a few people who have completely forgotten a scientific invention called the razor. They are either too busy lifting weights or bumping into other heavy guys, to shave and look presentable. But that’s the whole point, their job is not to look good. Their job is to support the team, put their bodies on the line and carry the ball over a certain line. A team works better as a unit when everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to do and respects the jobs of the other members in the team. The number 10 can kick far, number 9 is the brain and controls the play and many others work around them and make it all happen. So in life, even if your friends are strange and quirky in some ways, they accept your weird habits so you should accept them with theirs. Some of the smartest people have forgotten about the razor (Einstein for one) but that does not make them any less better at what they do. Everyone has funny habits, things they do because they have always done it that way or even out of superstition. The thing to remember is your friends may not be clever, good-looking, charming or even human (sometimes) but they are your friends because they are special to you.

Big guys with scary tattoos – The other specialty of this sport is that the players are huge. They are six feet tall and weigh a hundred kilograms on average. They are not just bulky, they are also agile and fast. They are also scary to stand next to and have tattoos on arms, calves and in many other places. In life, when you are trying to do something, achieving a goal or finding your way, remember, there will always be big guys with scary tattoos in your way. These obstacles may be people, institutions or may just be luck not going your way, but they will always seem big and scary. Also, if you are not facing something big and scary, that probably means you are not doing anything interesting or important. Just like in a Rubgy match, if these big guys are not in your way, then you are probably not playing the game and are just a spectator. When faced with obstacles, rely on your friends who are as big as the obstacles and remember that you are not small yourself. Tackle, push or simply out run the difficulties.

Cauliflower ears – Because of the constant tackling, scrumming, brushing against others and fighting for the ball players end up with scars, wounds, bruises and bloody ears. The ears sometimes get damaged so badly that they swell and lose their shape permanently, and are called cauliflower ears. The lesson here is simple, when you fight your fight or play your game there will always be injuries. It will never be easy, but you just have to get up wash the blood and move on. In Rugby, just like in life, no one will ask you how many cuts and wounds you have. They will only ask you how many points you scored and matches you won.

Try – So after passing the ball around, getting hit by a few big guys and with the help of your team mates, you finally manage to clear the line and get the five points. In Rugby, it is still just called ‘a try’. It may sound like a very small reward for the amount of risk taken, but it is just a try. It implies that you have to go back, start again and do it all over (hopefully a bit differently the next time). It almost feels like the journey to the try was more important than touching the ground with the ball beyond a certain line. And most of the times, it is the process that is more inspiring, motivating and educating than the final result. Winning a match is attempting a collection of tries (with conversions, which are 2 points). Imagine seeing our lives like that, each achievement just being a try or a stepping stone towards winning the match and doing what we want to do.

— Mayuresh

  1. August 30, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Very interesting and thought provoking take on the theme. I suggest that the title be ‘Rugby and Life’ instead of ‘Rugby Vs Life’ – as you have drawn insightful parallels. Very good article.

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