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Sep. 14th, 2005

Last night during tackling drills, our starting A-side loose-head prop got hit hard, opening up a gash under his chin. Today he confirmed by e-mail that he is okay but that the gash required 8 stitches. The stitches come out in 5 days, meaning he won't be able to play in Saturday's game at Springfield.

I am currently the only back-up at that position. Right now it looks to me like I will be forced into an A-side start. Frankly, though, I don't want to play A-side. I'm in this for the fitness as much as anything, and I'm content running with the B-side, where the hitting is less aggressive and the opponent is likely to be as winded as I am halfway through the game. And I don't think the team will want me to start on the A-side either. I think they correctly perceive that I've improved a hell of a lot but am not ready yet. My fitness and conditioning is improving daily, but I am still not to the point where I can play a half of rugby without getting seriously winded. My scrumming technique is vastly improved, but I still give up weight, technique, and experience to most A-side tight-head props. And for a guy my size, I'm not a very punishing tackler or aggressive player.

Maybe they'll find someone else. Maybe the coach or assistant coach, both loose-head props who played in the spring, will decide to play. Maybe they'll convince a former player to join us for this game. I don't know what the team's leaders are thinking. But for now I have to assume that I am being thrown into the fire and must prepare accordingly.

So, on a related note, we had our first real game of the fall season on Saturday. We played a tough Providence team. It was a hard fought game, but we were the better prepared team. We were more aggressive on rucks and tackling, and at the end of the game it was clear that the past month's brutal practices have paid off, as Providence had their hands on their knees and were sucking wind while our players still seemed to have plenty left in the tank. Our A-side won 27-11. The B-side game was a bit different. I felt completely winded after only 15 minutes or so. My legs felt like lead weights, and I couldn't get to plays fast enough to support. When the plays happenned in front of me, I rucked well. I also had a try-saving tackle, as the opposing tight-head, a big, strong, former A-side guy in his 40s, took the ball and crashed towards me. I got down low to tackle. He managed to get just a bit lower than me, but I was able to hold my ground and bring him down. On our first scrum of the game, he got the better of me, but I held my own on subsequent scrums, being better about bending my knees and keeping my ass down. We lost 5-3 and would have been blanked if one of our players hadn't displayed a shitload of moxy in attempting and making a 40-meter drop kick. We should have an easier time in this week's B-side game, assuming I'm not thrust onto the A-side.

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