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Rain, Rain, Go Away

I didn't mind the rain last Friday. I really didn't even mind it all that much on Saturday, although I was soaked to the bone after playing rugby in it. Practicing in the rain on Tuesday and even moreso on Thursday really started to piss me off. So, today I was livid. Nine straight days of rain is too much! (How ironic that this week I finished reading Many Waters, which recounts Noah and his family's preparations for The Flood!)

I had trouble waking up this morning to go to my rugby game in Hartford. I really drag my ass more than usual in gloomy weather. And the commute was a bitch! My driver's side windshield wasn't defogging completely, so I spent the drive with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the stick, one had trying to wolf down my power bar breakfast, and one hand wiping my windshield with a paper towel. (You didn't know I was a Hindu goddess, eh?)

The commute was considerably worse for others, though. Sections of I-91 north of Hartford were closed due to flooding. Four of our teammates, all four of them A-side starters, two of whom are amongst the best players on the club, including our scrumhalf, who is basically the quarterback of the team, perhaps the most important position — these four teammates found themselves on this particular stretch of I-91. My commuting difficulties only made me 20 minutes late to the match. They missed all but the last 10-15 minutes. Today was our most important game of the season. We entered the match at 5-0 against a 4-1 Hartford squad that many consider the best in the league. We ended up fielding several B-siders (and at one point in the second half I thought I might have to go in, when one of our props left the game with injury; but I was spared) and managed to keep it close (trailing 11-5) at the half, but Hartford scored 4 more tries before our missing A-siders arrived.

We took our first loss of the season in devastating fashion. A win would have all but guaranteed the league championship. Now we have to win, score 4 tries to get the bonus point, and hope that Hartford either loses or doesn't get the bonus point for 4 tries. Either way, the team is assured of a spot in the playoffs in the spring, which means a chance to go to nationals. (I got to watch a little bit of the national championship finals when I was in San Diego in June, and I think our team could hold its own with some of these clubs.)

Not all today's suckage was weather related! Immediately after our B-side game (which we lost 7-0), one of my teammates shouted to me across the pitch, "Hey Derek, what's wrong with your leg?" I glanced down and was shocked with what I found. On my right shin, about 4 inches below my knee, was a huge-ass bump, about the size of a canteloupe. I kid you not — if you were to take a canteloupe, slice it in half, and stick it on my lower leg, that's what it looked like! Oddly enough, it didn't hurt, and I have no idea how or when it happenned. I know I must have played a few minutes with it that way, because I did see it earlier in the game; it just didn't register at the time because my mind was on the game. I'm guessing someone either kicked me or stepped on me, both of which are common in rucks, where there is so much banging of bodies that I might not notice one hit more than any other.

Afterwards the coach made the rookies and latecomers do a bodyslide each across some standing water next to the field, and I must have bumped the lump when I bellyflopped into the puddle, because it did hurt then. But it actually felt nice to dowse myself in water and wash off all the mud that covered me from head to foot.

There was no way not to be drenched in mud after this game. The pitch was a brown soup with the occasional patch of grass. And Hartford, even their B side, has a large pack, so they were running straight at us forwards instead of passing the ball out to the wings. That means I was involved in a lot of tackles, a lot of rucks, a couple of mauls, and lots of scrumming. I was disappointed with my lack of aggression in tackles: I was waiting for the tackle to come to me rather than hitting the guy. I was also disappointed in my stamina: running in 6 inches of mud is almost as hard as running in snow…and very tiring. On scrums, I was getting a good initial pop and putting myself in the right position, but the opposing prop is probably about 50 pounds heavier than me, and when he started pushing, my cleats just slid across the ground rather than giving me any traction.

I was also involved in three slightly embarrassing plays. On one, I found myself at the bottom of the ruck and right next to the ball. My initial instinct is to keep it away from Hartford, so I scooped it up and tossed it in my team's direction. Of course, you're not supposed to play the ball when you're on the ground, so Hartford was awarded a penalty. On the second play, my teammate tackled the Hartford ballcarrier and I was right next to him, so I bent over to pick up the ball. Hartford's support arrived as it's supposed to and rucked me hard. I was lifted off my feet and landed on my ass about 2-3 feet away. Then I slid another 10 feet or so across the wet field! On the third play, I caught a ball that was passed in my direction. I don't know if the pass was intended for me or a guy just behind me, but I suddenly had the ball and saw an opportunity to run. I knew that, the nearest defender ahead of me being about 10 yards away and not bigger than me, if I could build up a head of steam I might be able to break through their line. I didn't see the guy coming from the side, though. He made a perfect form tackle, pinching my legs together so that I couldn't run. As I was going to the ground, I made an effort to hold the ball until I hit the deck and then present it cleanly to my team, but the wet ball just squirted out of my hands. (Same thing happened last week, when the ball squirted out of my hands like a greased pig, although that time the ball came out without contact, and this time, unlike last week, my team recovered the ball.)

On top of everything else that went wrong, I forgot my cellphone at home today. So, when I got lost (crappy directions!) trying to get to the game and later to the drink-up, I couldn't call any of my teammates for help. And when I got home, I had several voicemail messages from K, who was having a weather-related emergency. (Water was pouring through her living room ceiling!) As if there wasn't enough suckage today!

But the rains seem to have stopped…FINALLY!!! Now instead we get to enjoy a day or two of strong gusting winds. This ought to be fun!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2005 11:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, the constant rain has been draining. I'm up now, and can see actual sunlight (!!) through the window!
Oct. 16th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC)
Duh. Grateful too. Maybe I should go to sleep now.
Oct. 16th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
It's nice to know your injuries were limited to parts we can cover with make-up or costume! Sounds like you were in a personal heaven in some regards. Mud, adreneline, challenge!!!
Oct. 18th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC)
I hope you got pictures of the damage.
Oct. 18th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Swelling
Well, by the time I got home the swelling was almost completely down, just about where it's at now. I just now tried taking a photo, so you can at least see the various different colors in that area and get a sense for the circumference of this bruise, but the pictures simply don't do it justice.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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