It happened pretty quickly, I would say. I fell hard, heard a snap, and looked at my hand. My finger did not look how it was supposed to. It was at a ninety degree angle. Looking at my finger in relative horror, if I remember correctly, I said “I just broke the shit out of my finger”. This is one of my first memories as a member of the Acadia rugby team.
After two years of sevens rugby in high school, I never thought I would ever play rugby again. Six months ago I was pretty certain that wasn’t going to change. However, after some convincing and some thought I decided I would give it a try. To be candid, prior to my experience on the team this year I had very little respect for student athletes. They seemed to me, to be self important, and perhaps a little arrogant. What I can say is that it took one practice to turn that opinion on its head. I can honestly report that the ladies and gentleman that represent our school through sport have earned my deepest respect. The physical challenge that met me on the field both in practice and during games is truly unmatched by anything I have ever experienced in my life. In two months I lost nearly twenty-five pounds, rolled an ankle, sprained three fingers, and dislocated another. Now that my first season is over I’ve come to some noteworthy conclusions about being a student athlete.
Walking onto the field on the first day of training camp I was greeted by a truly strange group of individuals. The first person to greet me was one of the coaches who looked rightfully skeptical that I could even play the game. The second was a rather interesting individual who introduced himself as “Big Sexy”. Strange indeed. That first week my practices left me burnt out, beat up, and nearly incapable of lifting myself from my couch for several hours afterward. I had to dig incredibly deep just to convince myself to go to practice. Being one of the oldest rookies on the team I felt a little out of place. These boys had known each other for many years and, unlike myself, were actually quite good at rugby. I was surprised at how the team encouraged me to push myself and how they held me to a higher standard of play.
I was never very good at rugby in high school and after the first game it was clear that not much had changed. However, with the athlete development lead by coach Alguire and Axel, I slowly began to see my skills change for the better. At the beginning of the season my hands were terrible, I had also almost entirely forgotten the rules of the game. With some much needed encouragement from the boys I continued to play.
The gentlemen on the team seemed quite fond of nicknames and I was eager to see what they would settle on for me. First it was “Chipman Chris” then it was back to an old high school nickname “Vandercock” which would have been fine, however, the boys figured out that I failed to catch a kicked rugby ball nearly every time which is when they began to call me “Cross-Kick Chris”. The jokes that ensued were all in good fun but I knew that in my position as a full back or winger I would eventually have to catch a kick. After a great deal of practice (literally hundreds of kicks) I was soon able to catch a kick with relative confidence.
If there is one thing that my readers can take away from this article it should be that they get involved in sport during their time at Acadia. In four years here the only regret I have is that I should have joined the team sooner. Get involved and put yourself out there. Never played rugby before? Perfect. The boys will show you how it’s done.
The season went by in the blink of an eye, the practices became something that I looked forward to, my skills improved, and I began to see this strange bunch of individuals as brothers. Although we are a vastly different group of people, some are history majors, some are masters students, some are freshmen and others are twenty-one year old rookies, we’re all a family. So to conclude, I would like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to the members and coaching staff of the Acadia Rugby Football Club. I can guarantee I’ll be back next season ready to give’er. My family calls me Cross-Kick and I couldn’t be happier about it.