Rugby has a unique ability to teach life lessons to players and one of the most important lessons is to never quit. Rugby Rugby’s Tom Billups explains why this is so important to the game of rugby.
by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
It was originally an ancient Greek ideal, that sport should be preparation for life. Central to this is the importance of never giving up. The game of rugby has the unique ability to teach this lesson and many, many more because of the duration of the contest, amount of teamwork involved, and the physical exertion required when competing. Not all those who play rugby are physically or emotionally prepared to fulfil their responsibility to their teammates. To the untrained eye, these rugby players are not easily identifiable. So what is it about those athletes who have quit competing, but are still out on the field going through the motions? In this column we will look deeper into what one American legendary coach calls a “game quitter”.
The eight-time football coach of the year Bill Parcells identified a phenomenon he calls the “game quitter”. Game quitters, he says, seem “as if they are trying to win, but really they’ve given up. They’ve just chosen a way out that’s not apparent to the naked eye. They are more concerned with public opinion that the end result.” As a developing rugby nation with an audience of spectators who are not familiar with positional roles and responsibilities, it is easy for players in a rugby match to “quit” without ever leaving the field of play. In any sport, especially rugby, this just isn’t acceptable.
The following is from Teddy Atlas, the well-known boxing trainer and television analyst who recounts the story of the Hart-Antuofermo fight to his friend, Coach Parcells. Hart was a well-known big puncher out of Philadelphia and was heavily favored against the unknown Italian American, Vito Antuofermo. Hart knocked Antuofermo all over the ring, and Antuofermo had no apparent physical gifts except he “bled well”.
But he had other attributes you couldn’t see.
Antuofermo absorbed the punishment dealt out by the superior boxer Hart, and he did it so well that Hart became discouraged. In the fifth round, Hart began to tire, not physically but mentally. Seizing on the moment, Antuofermo attacked and delivered a series of quick blows that knocked Hart down, ending the fight.
When the fighters went back into their makeshift locker rooms, as Atlas relives the story, only a thin curtain was between them. Hart’s room was quiet, but on the other side he could hear Antuofermo’s corner men talking about who would take the fighter to the hospital. Finally, he heard Antuofermo say, “ Every time he hit me with that left hook to the body, I was sure I was going to quit. After the second round, I thought if he hit me there again, I’d quit. I thought the same thing after the fourth round. Then he didn’t hit me no more.”
At that moment, Hart began to weep. It was really soft at first. Then harder. He was crying because for the first time he understood that Antuofermo had felt the same way he had, and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero feel the same emotions. They’re both human.”
Change the sport from boxing to rugby and the lessons remain the same. All those who play our game can learn a very important life lesson; never quit.
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