Growing a culture

People often ask me why I play rugby or how I got involved with the sport. I usually respond… “I fell in love instantly or it’s simply the best sport.” While these explanations are accurate, I often find myself neglecting the true reason I’m enamored with the sport… It creates better people.

I believe rugby is much more than a sport. A sport begins and ends within the confines of grass, white wash, or court markings. Rugby transcends these contrived boundaries. Rugby is a global culture based on community, camaraderie, and respect. These ideals are epitomized no matter your location in the world. You could find yourself treated like a family member thousands of miles from home, simply because you play rugby and share an admiration for the game. Whether home or abroad, rugby creates individuals that are bigger than themselves; they are part of a unique collective. In American sport, our veneration of the individual sometime causes us to lose sight of this important concept. The rugby community is tightly bound by implicit accountability. A fellow rugger is expected to sacrifice anything to see his team achieve success on the field. The same usually holds true off the field. It takes the selfless labor of team managers and dedicated family members to help prepare rugby teams for victory. Rugby unites the community behind the pursuit of higher standards for one another.

At the end of the day, rugby requires several people toiling in harmonious effort to achieve a common goal. Life, in general, isn’t too different. I have found that rugby cultivates a higher caliber of individual. That is why I am here. That is why I want to grow rugby. I hope you’ll join us.

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  1. Posted July 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I like your post. We have a lot of work to do in America to inspire the people to fall in love in rugby (as USA rugby said). Rugby is all of you wrote and more than that. Rugby is a lifestyle. I’m from Argentina now living in the states since 1999, I was envolved as player and coach since early age (7) and played for my all stars province selection and coaching as well in my country. Here in the states I’m coaching youth since several years in CA and I found a totally different world about rugby, one of these reasons (among others) many values of this sport are not here but due the lack of clubs with pitchs and facilities, club house, etc. which allow to people to knows each other, spend time there, not only the game day in the parks. Sometimes we found different attitude inside and outside the pitch and lack of respect from the people that go to watch the games but they didn’t know nothing about this sport and this is our duty to teach them the values, the rules and the meaning of what is the rugby about. Rugby is a game of respect. I will be glad to help you guys at any area, Cheers!

    • Matt Trenary
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Pablo. I think we all understand the difficulties. But since you’ve been doing the dirty work for a few years now, do you have a good success story to share that relates to teaching the respect of the game?

    • Michelle Wong
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      It’s awesome to hear about the rugby culture in Argentina, with the club houses, fields, facilities, etc. I studied abroad in Italy a few years ago near Florence, and I was eager to look up the local rugby club in Sesto Fiorentino and I walked about a mile to get there. Unfortunately the club had just finished their 7s season so when I got to the pitch it was all locked up. After circling the perimeter of the fenced pitch, I noticed that someone arrived in the parking lot. I didn’t know any Italian, but I had my rugby ball with me and that was enough to communicate to the elderly grounds keeper (who didn’t know English) that I wanted to check out the club house. He showed me the club room with trophies and photos, the locker rooms, and the equipment storage room. He even gave me a promotional poster calendar of the Sesto women’s team. It was a really great experience of the rugby community and rugby culture while in another country!

  2. Mike Holzman
    Posted August 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Great post. The culture of rugby is really special. I’ve been to many countries in the world and bonded with complete strangers over rugby and been welcomed into their homes. The game itself is fantastic, but the culture and community worldwide is truly incredible.

  3. Posted August 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I concur with all that has been offerred on the aspects of the game that go beyond just the “playing the game”. I’m glad to hear that folks still find that meaning in the camaraderie that is offered. I did three different years in Yorkshire,England when in my 20’s and was smitten by the “culture” of the game. Friends of 40 years from those times visit each summer now that we approach our dotage. Alas, what I see of the game as a “professional” endeavor and the rule changes made for the sake of the investors, I do not like at all. The “culture” of the game in the future should have some means to express opinions to the “governing” the rules makers. The game as I see it now, the supposed “flow” of it, I find boring in its sameness and the advantage given the ball possessor. What other sport when the ball is in play are defenders instructed by the referee to leave the ball be? Not so many years ago there would NOT be video’s of “Rugby’s Greatest Hits”….that foolishness would have been left for football as having no place in the game of gentlemen who would be drinking tea in a communal bath after the match….a group of gentlemen who had lives to lead after the match and could ill afford a hospital bed as they had “jobs” not rugby payments awaiting. The drift toward “smash mouth” as bringing more money into the game I find of little worth…and that is not the culture I care to grow as surely steroids and thugs will follow closely upon if they’ve not already. Reports from administrators with whom I used to play in Yorkshire confirm that payments into the first and second sides set these teams apart within clubs and the “old days” have gone. I find that incredibly sad and unnecessary. Rugby was through the 80’s an oasis from the American “win at any cost”/ “we’re number one” narcissism that is part of our sports scene. Alas, I fear that oasis has been blighted.

  4. Tyler Harrison
    Posted August 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink


    Thank you for the support and commenting on the post.

    Pablo, I couldn’t agree more with you that the clubhouse is truly the backbone of rugby. It allows the community to unify around the sport and is an enormously vital component of rugby’s culture. A lot of what I am drawing on in this post is my time spent in New Zealand rugby clubhouses. In New Zealand, Argentina, and other well established rugby countries, clubhouses are a large part of sporting culture and life in general. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the United States. However, there are the few rugby clubhouses out there. Dartmouth and San Francisco Golden Gate are prime examples.

    So, if clubhouses already exist, more can built. Obviously, substantial financial backing is required and most rugby clubs don’t have much money.

    Mike, you are absolutely right. Rugby’s culture and community is unrivaled by any other sport that I know of. We’ve got to do our best to expose the incredibe ideals and community of rugby. This means making the best of our less than ideal, but steadily improving situation in USA Rugby. Make Lemonade if you will.

    If your club doesn’t have a clubhouse, find a way to create the clubhouse culture without it. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant( in fact most rugby clubhouses are anything but). You just need a place where people can gather. Many clubs have a restaurant or pub that allow them to host after match functions. Meeting places expose the ideals of the sport and allow the community to rally behind rugby. So, if your club doesn’t have a meeting place, go out and find a local pub or restaurant. You’ll be contributing to the culture of rugby’s growth in your own small way.

    We aren’t going to change the landscape of USA Rugby over night. It is about taking the necessary, baby steps towards creating a special and quintessentially American culture of rugby. When Americans can see camaraderie, respect, and genuinely good people that comprise the fabric of rugby, the sport will undoubtedly become a part of American culture. It justs going to take a little time and elbow grease.

    Thanks for commenting.-th

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