LONDON, ENGLAND – So often in rugby, I hear of one team helping out another. Whether it be their rivals or a team they like, there is always a reaching out after the match. Rugby Camaraderie Stands Alone. I’ve seen it at tournaments, where teams lend players or make suggestions on tactics and execution. This stuff happens all the time. The social scene of rugby – the fact that you can fight your hearts out for 80 minutes and still share a meal afterwards with an opponent that has completely destroyed you – is simply not seen elsewhere.
In July, I was up at the Festival of World Cups, in Leeds. The Festival of World Cups is pretty much an amateur tournament that consists of a world cup for Women, Students, Police, Armed Forces and Wheelchair. I was working as a Team Liaison officer for the Russian Students National Team. Throughout the tourney, they were getting beaten badly by all the teams – even the 7/8th place playoff the game wasn’t close. However, the camaraderie that was displayed up at the World Cup was just astounding.
The Russian team was in shambles on arrival. A coach and a physio got denied visas, which didn’t help because they were not in the greatest position to start off with. Indeed, during the competition, the team was coached by three different people and there were five different physios for the team.
Now, the surprising part was who these people coaches and physios were: they weren’t exactly neutral. One of the coaches that coached them was Australian Tim Sheens. Mr. Sheens is also the Australian Men’s National Team coach. The next coach was the The Ireland Students coach and finally a local championship (division after Super League) coach. Yet all had one goal in mind: Make a developing country better at rugby to promote the sport. It didn’t matter to them that they were going to play each other, it was all about making everyone the best they could be.
Perhaps what struck me most though, were the physios that pitched in to help. Among them were were a volunteer from Scotland, Ireland, and Australia. The other two were a university student and – most interestingly, – the New Zealand Women’s physios. The NZ physios had heard we were in need of a physio and came just for the pre-match, to tape and rub-down the players. They came because of the camaraderie of the game. They came because this game is about picking your mates – and opponents – up.
We are a unique band of brothers and sisters that love and respect each other and I’m all in.
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