my first rugby game

24 May

I wasn’t particularly planning to watch rugby tonight. But at dinner, one of the girls in my dorm told me that tonight was the last rugby game of the semester. I figured that since I’ve been in this country for over three months without seeing a live game that I should probably take advantage of this opportunity while I could. One of my American friends went with me to the rugby fields and I saw my first rugby game ever.

Initially, I was reminded of watching my high school soccer team play. The bleachers were full of Rhodes students bundled up against the cold May air, many of them drinking certain beverages of choice. Overall it seemed like more of a social event than anything… It didn’t really seem like people were paying too much attention to the game, but that’s probably because the Rhodes rugby team isn’t amazing (the final score was 0-39). I watched the entire game though, and I think I now have a basic understanding of the rules.

Rugby is like American football in some ways. The point of the game is to move the ball down the field and into the end zone, and you can either run with the ball, throw it backwards, or kick it forwards. If you have the ball, the players from the other team will definitely tackle you, at which point your own team members will jump in and the end result is a giant pile of men wearing striped shirts and short shorts. The ball is always in play– there are no downs like in football. Somehow the ball is always magically produced from underneath the pile of rugby players.

Blurry pile of rugby players (taken from my phone)

Running down into the end zone while holding the ball is worth four points, and the equivalent of a field goal is worth three points, but I couldn’t figure out how the field goal thing works since there aren’t any downs.

Even though Rhodes lost by an embarrassing amount, I’m really glad I went to the rugby game. It was cool to get out and support my school’s athletics and to learn about a new sport.

In other news, tomorrow is my last day of classes! Even though I’m sad that my time here is coming to an end, I am so ready for summer. Next week, I will travel to the Wild Coast, where I’ll be staying at a lodge that lets you spend a day in the life of a Xhosa woman. I’ll also take surfing lessons ($5 for two hours of professional instruction, not a bad deal) and go cliff diving. Then I will come back to Rhodes, take my finals, and say my goodbyes to all my new friends and to this beautiful, amazing country that is South Africa.

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