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Why didn't I play rugby before?

We had our first real contact in practice today. After our conditioning, we started off with tackling drills. I learned a couple of things. One, I'm a bitch to bring down because of my size and strength, but even a smaller guy can bring me down if he uses good technique and wraps up my legs. Two, I'll usually bring a guy down, but I don't have especially good technique and am not getting low enough; thus, one or two of the bigger guys might break out of my tackle since I go in too high. Afterwards, we worked on rucking and mauling. My main issue here is technique: again, I'm not getting in low enough and am giving up leverage. I'm one of the two biggest guys on the team, and I need to start using my size. On Thursday, the captain is going to have the other big guy take me aside and work on rucking and mauling technique.

There was a guy there today who is even more of a rookie than I am. It's his first ever rugby experience. On one mauling drill, he was the ball carrier and was supposed to get low and turn to allow his two supporters to form a maul around him. He didn't get down low, and when I crashed the pile I slammed my nose into his skull. The nose bled, although I didn't notice until I got home. Nonetheless, I was pissed. If players do what they're supposed to do, they're not supposed to get hurt (aside from bruises, cuts, scrapes, occasionally being stepped on, etc.).

For the remainder of practice we went into the gym and split into backs and forwards. I am a forward, which is a class of players. Within that class there are further positions/roles. I will either be a prop or a lock. A prop forms the front row support of a scrum, the big guys on either side of the hooker (whose job it is to push the ball back to our side of the scrum with his feet); the lock forms the second row and is the engine that moves the scrum and gives it stability. They'll probably start me at prop this weekend because of my size and see how it goes. Anyway, in the gym we went over various things such as how to scrum, how to form line-outs and determine who the hooker will throw the ball into, and set plays on penalty kicks.

When I got home, I was covered in mud, bruised, scraped up, and much in need of a shower and R&R, but content from having worked hard and starting to get a grasp of this game. My role as a forward will be a sort of hybrid of an offensive guard and a fullback in high school. I slam into rucks and mauls to clear defenders from the ball carrier, just like a guard in football would do; and when I carry the ball, I just barrel forward to try to pick up a few tough meters before going down, just like a fullback. What more could I ask for (in a game where there's no forward pass)?

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