by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
We recently played a home match versus our eighty seven year old rival University of British Columbia. It was a hard fought match and a notable occasion for both the Golden Bears and Thunderbirds. Both sides gave full measure throughout the contest and displayed skill and determination while competing for their respective universities. It was an epic struggle, one that only true rugby players seek out. I believe that to play in a match like this, you have to not only want to be a rugby player, but you have to have a deep love for the game. To have a love for the game is to understand how the game of rugby can challenge you, how the game can teach a lot about yourself. Some times these lessons are taught whether you want to learn them or not.
Why do we do it? I believe it is because those of us that love rugby, love it because we need the struggle a rugby contest presents. I found an article in a professional journal that mirrored my thoughts on why we play the game. The following is an excerpt from Coach and Athletic Director Magazine, August 2007. In this piece, then Michigan Football Head Coach, Lloyd Carr said; “ We had a coach here who had a quote that said, “ No man can be a football player who does not love the game”. Coach Carr goes on to finish stating, “It is not devotion to the affair that makes men play football, it is because they enjoy the struggle.” To play this game, to really get everything out of it that it can give you, that only happens to guys who really love the game. I don’t care who you are or how talented you are, there are going to be times in your career – it may be when you’re young, it may be when you are older, and it maybe you’re hurt, or it maybe when things aren’t going your way – but there are going to be times when you struggle. This game is going to humble even the most talented, intelligent players. It just has a way of doing that”.
Combine a rugby player’s internal need for the struggle with the sense of fulfilment we experience by pushing ourselves further, harder, than we thought possible, and you create something within you that stays with you a lifetime. You can build confidence that no obstacle is too great to overcome. That no setback is too severe to recovery from, and you can build friendships with teammates that last an eternity.
Why do you play rugby?
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand, the U.S. and England for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
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