Life Lessons from the Pitch

Posted: April 29, 2014 at 11:38 am, Last Updated: April 29, 2014 at 11:39 am

rugby natalie post 2

This article was written by Natalie Mullins, one of our very own Women’s Rugby Club players.


Over the last seven weeks I have learned many things about Rugby:


Keep your head up or you will end up with your face in the dirt.

Stay the hell out of the channel. (Thanks, Shaggy)

Jersey tan lines/ burns are as inevitable as they are unattractive.

Similarly, the neck holes in jerseys are entirely too small – it takes as many as three players to remove one player’s jersey.

Adrenaline is the best remedy for pain, followed by ice packs and Tylenol.

You are going to get hit, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

There seem to be more incorrect ways to tackle someone than there are correct ways to tackle – if you did it right it will hurt a bit less than if you did it wrong.

Your body will inevitably be covered in bruises of all shapes, sizes and colors – and you will not remember how you got most of them.

Same goes for scrapes, scratches and scars.


Though I have learned a lot about the game, the lessons I have learned from Rugby are the most valuable:


Your size is not directly correlated to your power, ability, or drive.

Although no one likes to be underestimated, it can serve as a huge advantage on and off the pitch. Your patience will certainly be tried and may have to work a little (or a lot) harder to prove yourself, but it always pays off (maybe not when you want it to, but it will). My boss and mentor once gave me a great piece of advice – never let anyone make you feel inferior because of your age, experience or ability – and he was right. For the last seven weeks I have pushed myself mentally and physically in order to keep up with very talented and experienced ruggers and prove that weighing a buck twenty-seven was not necessarily a disadvantage as a forward – and it totally paid off.


Believe in yourself, no matter how terrified you are,

because if you don’t, why should anyone else? Yesterday was the last game of the season, but only the second I had played. We showed up at Field 4 and went through our typical warm-up, then met up in the huddle before the whistle. Near the end of the standard pep-talk and recap of objectives, Squirrel, our coach, assigned positions and numbers. As it was only my second game I expected to have to wait awhile before hearing my number. Surely I would not be starting, I didn’t know all of the plays and I had just learned how to pass properly. Midway through a day dream I heard Nat, go put on number four, you’re starting. I would have paid twenty dollars to see my expression; I’m sure I looked absolutely ridiculous. Immediately, I knew that Thursday’s practice was a mistake. During practice earlier in the week we ran a tackling drill, and for one reason or another I turned into some sort of animal – maybe it was the copious amounts of protein I had been consuming or the fact that I had hit the gym right before practice – whatever it was, it allowed me to pull out all the stops when it came to hitting. I got low and I pushed hard until both my partner and I were shoved into the dirt. At one point the coach asked where all this power was coming from, and I told him I had absolutely no idea, but I was not going to question it. But come Saturday, all I could do was question myself. When I heard what number I would be wearing, I frantically ran over to my gym bag and scrounged for my inhaler. I questioned my judgment (and Squirrel’s judgment, for that matter) and ability until I “played scared.” I could hardly play a whole half during my first game, how in the hell was I supposed to start this one?  After a while I managed to talk myself down, get angry, get pumped, and get my head back into the game.


Play as hard and as well as you can, because you never know when you will be pulled off the field.

Not long after the whistle blew for the second half I was subbed out. During my first game I would have been ecstatic to be pulled off the field, but it was different today. I was slowly getting the hang of it and my head was finally in the game. When my number was pulled I walked off the field, I didn’t argue, but man was I frustrated. I understood Squirrel wanted everyone to play, it was the last game after all; and since reading my previous post about my experience as a rookie and learning about my asthma he had been cautious when running me, but it wasn’t stopping me today. I watched from the sidelines and cheered for my teammates, the whole time knowing that I should and could have played harder. And next time I will.


Perseverance is one of the most important and most difficult traits to acquire.

Perseverance is as important in Rugby as it is in everyday life. Mental and emotional perseverance seem to be the internalization of physical endurance. Whether it is asthma, an injury, a tough hit, or a hard shot to the throat, there always seem to be a few moments during the game – or even practice – when some part of me says I can’t. Overcoming these moments on the pitch are the biggest decisions made during the game.


You won’t get anywhere without communication.

This past Friday, the Men’s Club Rugby team joined with Mason Life, a “post-secondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities”, to teach these awesome students the basics. Some of us from the Women’s team tagged along to play a little Rugby and have a lot of fun. During the game, our Mason Life teammates would huddle up and discuss what we were struggling with during the game what we were doing well. I have never seen such positive and constructive communication, even during official games. Not only did they communicate with one another, but they listened to one another, which made these huddles all the more effective. The lady ruggers on the field looked at each other in disbelief during the huddles – these were all of the terribly obvious things we should be using during our games, but seemed to forget about on a regular basis.


Sometimes you have to get back to the basics.

Playing with our friends from Mason Life taught us this, and many other valuable lessons. When asked what the most important part of passing was, our new found teammates simply stated You always pass backward! Again, the lady ruggers looked at one another with confusion and disbelief – we had no idea what the answer was until they reminded us. We had become so focused on the details and technicalities of the game that we had forgotten the basics.


Humility is essential.



the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. (

Just like perseverance, humility is one of the most important yet forgotten virtues on and off the pitch.  Our new friends from Mason Life taught us this invaluable lesson. This past Friday, everyone gave their all for two hours’ worth of drills and pick-up games – something many of us have a hard time doing during practices and official games. There were people of all skill levels on the field, but you wouldn’t have known it by watching – no one became frustrated with the others’ abilities, the points didn’t seem to matter, and at one point the score was said to be Fun to Fun. I have never seen a happier, more dedicated group of people, and I hope we are blessed enough to play with them in the future.


During the last seven weeks I have met so many wonderful people and learned so many life lessons through Rugby. Showing up to that first day of practice was honestly one of the best – if not the best – decision I have ever made. I only wish I had made the choice sooner.


Until next season,




*Article taken from Natalie’s blog located at