A Team I played for in central Pennsylvania had a game in Washington DC. It was pretty cool, we played on the lawn right next to the Washington monument. We even got to see the presidential motorcade drive by! We had a convenient travel, a short drive to the train station and then public transit in and around DC.
We brought both our teams for the game that day and ended up playing two games (an A side and B side if you will). During the first match, I was just tracking the game metrics. Watching and learning really, since it was only my second 15s game. I guess I was pretty nervous.
Anyway, A side plays their match, then we start the B side. As with any new person playing rugby, I have little, to no idea what I’m supposed to do, but that doesn’t stop me from playing. It all started out as a good game. I was making my tackles, running the plays we practiced, everything is going alright. The first half finishes and all seems good. We regroup and get the second half started.
Up to this point, I hadn’t really had a good opportunity to get into full stride. Being a pack player, I was mostly told to gain a few yard by pushing through the center. But, occasionally, I would end up filling in with the backs on certain calls. Well, on such opportunity came up and I happen to be in the right place at the right time for a beautiful offload. We were in the better half of the 20 meter mark and in front of me was about maybe one or two people but I had at least 15 meters to the sideline. So I take this opportunity to really stretch my legs and go all out. I was trying to get my first try after all.
With maybe 10 meters before the Touch, I attempt to maneuver away from a defender in front of me. He catches on and ends up making some contact, nothing major. But what I didn’t know about, was a defender who was chasing me down from behind, who was just about to tackle me. I personally didn’t see the tackle, but apparently it wasn’t pretty. He hit me around my right hamstring while I had just started to move right. This caused my planted foot and knee to go under me as I went down.
Right away I felt a pop in my knee, but that was nothing compared to extreme pain in my ankle. I’m not sure when exactly I let go of the ball, but apparently my team ended up with it still. Either way though, I was just rolling around on the ground in pain. Unfortunately, the trainer already left for the day so it went unexamined until later, but it didn’t take a trained professional to figure I wouldn’t be playing the rest of the game. I got carried off the field with my whole right leg in pain. And with all the remaining ice we had, I iced my leg on the sideline.
As I previously mentioned, we were in DC, where few of us drove and most of us took a train into the city. So, on my undiagnosed, questionable condition of a leg, my team and I walked about a mile and a half to the third half (the after party). Normally, I would have drank the pain away, but I was a designated driver from the train station.
Despite the injury, it was that day that I learned the respect that Rugby really fosters. The coach of the opposing team, the player who tackled me, and various other players who witnessed it all came up to me about the tackle. The player who tackled me apologized about it being a crap tackle, and the coach mentioned he intended to use that as an example of what not to do. And of course others offered their stories of when something similar happens to them.
Upon getting it checked, it was only a stage 2 sprain in the ankle and a banged up knee. It took 6 months to recover though due to my career field and always being on my feet at work.
By Nick Burton