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How rugby saved my life – The untold story

This Saturday, November 20th will be my one year anniversary.  One year since I walked into the Dr’s office with future ahead of me and walked out with the words “two years to live” echoing in my head.  November 20, 2009 I found out I had cancer.  I drove home in a daze and sat on my sofa staring at the blank TV numb to the rest of the world.

I knew this brief moment was going to be the only one I would get to deal with the situation myself.  I knew once I started telling people, they would start piling on the advice or would break down and I would have to be the one to pick them back up.  I knew this was the calm before the storm, and I was right.

I handled those earlier days like any good rugby player, pushing through the pain and drinking lots of beer.

As chemo treatments started and my body started to give out to the point where I could not get out of bed, all I could think of was that I would never be able to play rugby again.  Never again smelling the grass of the pitch, scrumming down, taking down someone twice my size, sharing in the stories of the matches with my mates, and never scoring a try…

Almost no one on my team knew.  We had our holiday party in December, and even though I could barely do anything for myself, I was going to go even if it killed me.  If there was a chance that I was not going to make it to see 2011 I was not going to miss a chance to see my friends. Even though I was pretty much a walking pharmacy I had a great time.

Next was the team’s New Year pajama party.  One month into my 4 months of chemo I still could not do much on my own, but again, I was going. I did it once, I could do it again.  I was not going to be a victim; I was not going to be a helpless cancer patient.  Like before I opened up the magical pharmacy, got drugged up, and headed out.  I survived and had a great time doing it.  There were the moments where I thought I was going to just fall out, but I survived.

The parties were great and made me feel normal, but the big event was still on the horizon, the first practice in February.  My Dr insisted that I could not play.  That I ran the risk of getting an infection that would surely kill me with my lack of immune system.  Every week I would ask and every week it was the same response, “You play, you die.” Well hell, I was supposed to diet anyway, so why not do it having fun.

I went to the first practice with kit bag in hand, again drugged out of my mind, but determined to do it.  I would like to say those first practices went as well as the two previous parties.  I threw up a few times, and my body gave out a few others.  I left practice in so much pain I screamed the entire drive home.  However, I was not going to let my team see me shed one tear.

Each practice was motivation to go to the next.  I would tell myself, “You lasted longer last time you can do more this time.” I was getting better each time.  The after practice pain was decreasing.  Granted I was still drugged up, but I was doing it.  Eventually I got to the point where you would not have guessed that anything was wrong with me.  My team and my coach pushing me along and were there when I needed them.

The end of the beginning came during our first match and I was a starter.  I just kept telling myself that it was just 80 minutes.  Over and done before I knew it. 10 minutes into the game and things were going great.  Then came the tackle.  Charging towards me was a 270+ lb man holding the ball that I wanted more than anything at that moment.  We slammed against each other and as I pulled him down he fell directly on top of me fracturing one of my ribs and spraining my knee.  Holding back the tears I told my coach that I was fine that I had just pulled something.  I pulled myself up off the ground and got back in the game.

Every step sent pain shooting up my leg.  Every breath was like a stab to the chest.  The meds mixing with the adrenalin causing my head to come in and out of focus.  I was not giving up. I continued to play with everything I had in me.  We were scrumming 5 meters from the goal we were defending with 5 minutes left in the game.  The ball was out and I was up and running.  Before I knew it they had scored and the world went black.  All the mental strength I had was not going to be enough.  Reality had caught up to me.  They dragged me off the pitch and the tears started.  All I could think was that I had failed.  I could not last the entire match.  The disease had won.  My Dr’s voice was pounding in my head, “You play, you die.”  Every muscle fiber burned and my skin hurt; I knew this had to be what it feels like to die…

Some time later I realized I was leaning against a pillar looking towards the pitch in the shade.  The air smelled good and the world was calm.  People were moving around me. I tried to get to my feet, but my muscles were not going to cooperate.  One of my team members saw me and urged me to stay still, but I was not going to miss the after match talk.  I convinced him to help me up and he carried me over.

The next months I watched as my friends and team mates practiced and played.  Mustering up every ounce of energy to be there in support every chance I could.  Fighting the pain to run out there and play but knowing that I could not.

In March, I took my last treatment and the hell was over.  I came out the other side alive and a stronger person that when it all started.  I could not have done it without my rugby brothers and sisters.  Always pushing me and supporting me when things got too tough. Like in a match, when things are the hardest and the enemy is barring down on you, they are always there.  They always have your back.  They keep you alive.

2010 October, 30 Gay Rugby Matches

Gay Rugby Matches for the weekend of October, 30

  • Hellfest -Dallas
  • Broughton 2 @ Manchester
  • D.C. @ Pax River
  • Kings Cross @ Runwell III
  • MET NY Simi-Finals
  • Seattle @ Kitsap

Be afraid, be very afraid…

hellfest2010

This weekend Dallas hosts the Hellfest rugby tournament.  Festivities kick off Friday night with a mixer to drink and met before the real fun begins.

Tournament play starts Saturday morning at Lake Highlands Park. The following teams will be competing in the tournament:

- Atlanta Bucks

- Denver Wildfire

- Kansas City Carnivores

- Los Angles Rebellion

- Minneapolis Mayhem

- Nashville Grizzlies

- Phoenix Storm

- St. Louis Crusaders

Saturday night is the annual Dallas Halloween block party.  Which I have heard is an event to be hold.

If you are going to be in the Dallas area, or are looking to make those last minute Halloween plans, get your consume together and come down to Hellfest.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than getting a group of hot rugby men together with some good beer and sport.

For more information, check out the Hellfest 2010 page

I look forward to meeting some new people, playing, and watching some good rugby.  See you boys there.

2010 October 23, Matches

  • BYE @ DC
  • Charlotte @ Gastonia
  • Chicago @ Blaze
  • Hudson Valley @ New York
  • Kings Cross @Wanstead III
  • Manchester @ Heaton Moor 3
  • Runwell Wyverns @ Kings Cross
  • St. Cloud Bottom Feeders @ Minneapolis

2010 October, 9 Matches

  • Beaver Bowl
  • Boston @ Cape Cod
  • Chicago @ Illiana
  • DC @ Happy Valley
  • Dunkinfield 3 @ Manchester
  • Ilford V @ Kings Cross
  • Kings Cross @ Laughton
  • Minneapolis @ Minneapolis Metropolis
  • Rochland Rogues @ New York

2010 October 2, Matches

  • Boston @ Berkshire RFC
  • Dallas @ Ft. Still
  • Manchester @ Ashton under Lyne 2
  • Nashville @ Charlotte
  • NWI @ Chicago
  • New York @ NY Americans

Manchester to host Bingham 2012!

Manchester2012

Congratulations to the Manchester Village Spartans for their win to host the 2012 Bingham cup. If you have not checked out their bid documentation please do so on their site. I look forward to seeing everyone in Manchester in 2012.

2010 Beaver Bowl – Snatch the beaver

beaverbowl

Muddy York RFC presents the 2010 Beaver Bowl

Saturday October 9, 9AM-4PM

Markham Irish Canadian Rugby Club

Schedule of events:

Friday October 8:

Meet & Greet, 8PM
O’Grady’s, 518 Church

Saturday October 9:

Third Half, 9:30PM
Black Eagle, 457 Church

Sunday October 10:

Player’s Brunch, 11:30AM
The Fox & Fiddle, 27 Wellesley

Barbecue, 3PM
Black Eagle, 457 Church

 

Individual players are welcome

Please have proof of insurance through your rugby union, or register as a visitor with Rugby Canada ($35).

For more information, please visit the Muddy York website.

Beaver Bowl Poster

Sometimes the most difficult position is the one on the sidelines

For me, the time just before the start of a match is amazing.  Players arrive and go through their individual routines to get ready.  They greet fellow players, say hi to friends who are there to watch, kiss their significant others, boot up, tape up, and gather on the pitch.  Captains and coaches call their teams together, and what was many transforms into one.  It is the calm before the storm experience.   In a few minutes both teams are on the pitch, the ball is kicked, and the gates of hell are opened up for 80 minutes of controlled chaos.  This is the moment all the hard work put into practice pays off.  The moment you realize why you play and love the sport. 

However, this weekend I experienced this, not on the front row between my two props with the rest of the pack behind me, but from the side of the pitch.  Last week, four days before our first match, I injured my knee during a simple tackling drill.  The sound of pop was loud, and the pain was…well  A LOT.  As I laid there on the ground screaming it dawned on me that even though my knee hurt, that pain paled in comparison to the heartbreak I was feeling.  I knew that unless a miracle happened, I was not going to play on Saturday.  It felt as if I was letting down my team as they looked down upon me. 

The morning before the match, I thought of everything I could to get my knee stable enough to play, but it was not going to happen.  I could not put enough weight on it to walk around normally let alone run up and down the pitch.  Disappointed, I put on my street clothes and my team t-shirt.   Watching the match was agony.  Every hour spent practicing weighing down on me.  I felt like a dog on a leach wanting to get out and play so bad it hurt but unable to do so.  We lost the match, but the players put up a great fight and gave it all they had.  I am so proud of them. 

I now know why it is so hard for players who are unable to play any more to come to practices and matches.  You want to help and you want to be out there.  But, your body does not have the ability. 

I find out next Tuesday the full extent of the injury and if I will get to strap on my boots this season or not.  Either way, I am there for my mates and for the sport that I love.

New tackle interpretation

RugbySevensEngland_468x311

In an effort to speed up the pace of the game, the interpenetration of tackling and what happens after a tackle has changed. The following is the updated interpenetration.

LAW 18. TACKLE, LYING WITH, ON OR NEAR THE BALL

A tackle occurs when a player carrying the ball in the field-of-play is held by one or more opponents so that while he is so held he is brought to the ground or the ball comes into contact with the ground. If the ball carrier is on one knee, or both knees, or is sitting on the ground, or is on top of another player who is on the ground, the ball carrier is deemed to have been brought to the ground.

(1)
(a)
A tackled player must immediately
pass the ball
or
release the ball
and
get up or move away from the ball.
(b)
After a tackle any other player must be on his feet when he plays the ball.

I.R.F.B. Ruling

The requirement of Law 18(l)(b) relates to the first player to play the ball after a tackle. No distance is specified for the ball to be from the tackle but if the ball has travelled into In-goal there is no requirement for a player who forces the ball to be on his feet.

(c)
A player who goes to the ground and gathers the ball or with the ball in his possession but who is not tackled must immediately get up on his feet with the ball
or
pass the ball
or
release the ball
and
get up or move away from the ball.
Notes:-
(i)
The requirement to release the ball allows a player to put the ball on the ground in any direction or to push it along the ground (but not in a forward direction), provided the action is immediate.
(ii)
It is not a tackle if the ball carrier is lifted by an opponent so that both his feet are off the ground.
(iii)
If a tackled player does not pass or release the ball immediately and the referee is in doubt as to responsibility for failure to pass or release it, he should at once order a scrummage.
(iv)
If a tackle occurs in such a position that the tackled player whilst complying with the Law, is able to place the ball on or over the goal line he may do so to obtain a try or a touchdown. In such circumstances an opposing player may attempt to prevent the try or touchdown by pulling the ball from the player in possession but must not kick the ball.
(v)
If a tackle occurs near the goal-line and the ball, having been released by the tackled player, goes into the In-goal, any player of either team may ground the ball and need not be on his feet in these circumstances.
(vi)
Danger may arise if a tackled player fails to pass or release or move away from the ball at once or is prevented from doing so. In such cases the referee should not delay in awarding a penalty kick.
(vii)
Advantage shall be played only if it occurs immediately.
(2)
It is illegal for any player:-
(a)
to prevent a tackled player from passing or releasing the ball, or getting up or moving away after he has passed or released it,
(b)
to pull the ball from a tackled player’s possession or attempt to pick up the ball before the tackled player has released it,
(c)
while lying on the ground after a tackle to play or interfere with the ball in any way or to tackle or attempt to tackle an opponent carrying the ball,
(d)
to willfully fall on or over a player lying on the ground with the ball in his possession,
(e)
to willfully fall on or over players lying on the ground with the ball between them or in close proximity, or
(f)
while lying on the ground in close proximity to the ball to prevent an opponent from gaining possession of it.

Note:-

(viii)
Close proximity means within one meter.
(3)
A player must not fall on or over the ball emerging from a scrummage or ruck.

Penalty:- Penalty kick at the place of infringement.

(4)
A try may be scored if the momentum of a player carries him into his opponents In-goal even though he is tackled