This week Keego examines the way rugby players take such pleasure in dealing with pain.
Welcome to blog 5. Packed tighter than Britney in her prime.
Thank you for reading and commenting to/with me on twitter (@nkeegan) about the previous blog about performance enhancing drugs. I enjoyed the banter. It is quite timely considering Steffen Armitage’s failure at Toulon. It will be interesting to see how they deal with it.
Now let’s kick off with a story about my worst rugby injury. Which may meander into some garbled mess as per usual.
So there I was, looking down at my left hand (the start of many a filthy story, but please stick with me-another bad turn of phrase). The little finger was bent 90 degrees over my ring finger and my thumb was bent down to my wrist. I have no idea what happened to cause this, it was a normal tackle on a normal training session on a normal day.
When things like this happen there are usually 2 reactions. 1 cry or 2 you just stare at it waiting for the pain to start… I chose to do a bit of both. During training, you can’t really cry. That is usually saved for the car journey home. But I had never seen a hand pointing the wrong way as mine was. So I made a fist and the whole thing cracked back together, not quite like new but good enough to continue. The swelling started (again, usually the start of a filthy story)
This is the worst injury I have suffered while playing rugby. And the interesting thing is how it was dealt with on the pitch and afterwards. The training session continued, there was no pause for injury. To be honest I didn’t expect it.
But this has me thinking now about the game and how injuries are dealt with. If we are being honest, rugby is a game of legal assaults. Yes I understand that there is a huge amount of skill and bravery involved, but there is also equal amount of stupidity. This is at every level. Whether it is the honour of stepping out for the @Thethirsty3rds (wink wink, pick me) or playing for the national side the variables are exactly the same. You have to put your head where most people wouldn’t put their feet. Watching from the stands is one thing, but there is nothing like trying to navigate past a 17 stone man intent on flattening you. So every person who plays the game (not tag, tag is for girls ;) ) is stupidly brave.
Going back to my injury for a second. In any other sport the game would stop. In any other training session there would be a pause to make sure I was ok. I never expected a pause and none was given. Is this a healthy mindset to have while playing sport? Especially on a very amateur level (wishing no disrespect to my team mates). To a rugby player (which is something I very rarely dare call myself) this is a normal way of thinking. ‘I will go on until I physically can’t’, but to a civilian this may sound like utter nonsense.
Let’s look at other sports. When Ronaldo breaks a nail or Rooney stubs his toe, the game stops, ambulances are called, hairdressers are flown in and they get a journey back to the changing room on the stretcher. To me this is nonsense. It is taking the honesty out of the game. The reason I watch rugby, the reason I am currently scrounging for the pennies for a Leinster season ticket and sometimes attempt to play it is the pure honesty of the game. When you get knocked down you have to get up and find another way through the opposition. It teaches character. This is hugely positive.
The other side of that coin is that it also teaches the player that no matter what, he/she has to remain on that pitch. Whether it is detrimental to your health or not. Go back and watch Ireland's Grand Slam from 2009, watch the England game where the English aimed at the notorious BO’D and smashed him repeatedly and illegally. He stayed on that pitch out of sheer ……………..well the only word is stupidity. It was awesome to see him rise up (like another icon, but Jesus never won a Slam) come back and score, but the repeated knocks could have cause some serious damage. The reason he stayed on was of course pride, but also that in all the years he has played, the mantra of ‘never give up’ has been instilled into him and others.
In closing I think we need to take care of the players a bit more. The pros have the management program, looking at the injuries you can see how well that is working. But on the amateur level too. The coaches need to keep a closer eye on the players, team mates need to look out for each other. The game will remain the same, but the injuries should lower if we just look out for each other…
The Heineken cup fixtures came out this week. Anyone want to bring me to the away matches?
You will get a free t-shirt and ……. Eh……..Jamie Heaslip…..(one of these things is not true)
keego (@nkeegan): Newbie blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.