On Saturday I was invited along to play my first ever game of Tag Rugby.
For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, my understanding is that it’s Rugby, but non-contact. Instead, if your opponent wants to tackle you, they grab one of two tags attached to each side of your shorts with velcro.
After coming to terms with my outfit which I can only describe as mens baggy shorts and my oversized t-shirt tucked in (yes, this is a must) I began my training session in the hope that i’d instantly slip into things and be good enough to support my team to victory.
My chance to shine came mid-way through the first half when a tired female player passed me her tags as she left the pitch. Shaking, I took them both, strapped them on and ran out like a lamb to a slaughter, only to find the rather experienced, uniformed opposition waiting to devour me. By the way, I forgot to mention that Tag is a game for both men and women and generally the men are huge, so believe me when I say that scared is an understatement here folks.
When the whistle for the first half came, we were 10 – 1 down and I was exhausted. My contribution? I’d thrown the ball forward a few times and dropped it a few times more. I learnt very quickly through the tone of the captains voice that this was not allowed, under any circumstances.
The second half didn’t get much better. I became so frustrated that my physical stamina – or lack of – meant that I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team, resulting in me falling back and never being able to grab the ball and run.
The final blow came when the captain shouted me to “GET OFF!” and at that point I almost cried.
Back at home I sat and thought about what just happened to me. At work, I am so determined to be the best I can and am recognised as someone who does a good job and yet, out on that pitch, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make the progress I thought I could. I wasn’t able to slip into this mighty rugby warrior character like I thought I could, which was humiliating.
And then it hit me…You reap what you sow. I know all too well that to be respected at work and to be seen as a key player takes years of hard work, humiliation, frustration and break through moments. It takes passion and when you fail, the ability to adapt and get back out there – the ability to accept defeat and try again. And yet, there I was thinking i’d be as good as the rest of them, many of whom had trained for years and worked so hard to get to where they were.
Accepting that I was basically crap and that actually it was OK to fail, a few days later I decided to go along to a local beginners game that my coach had told me about on Saturday. I was determined to pick up the pieces of my dignity and try to actually learn properly this time.
When I arrived, a team of 11 or 12 amateurs like me were playing their second half of their game. By playing I mean that they too were dropping the ball a few dozen times. Catching it was a small miracle for them and their definition of defence was every man for himself and to run for dear life to the get that ball!
But after the trauma of Saturday afternoon, this time I felt comfortable and at home and I realised that it was ok to begin from the start.
After 80 minutes of a friendly match with some big Mauritians – of which I played full time with the beginners – you’ll be pleased to know we won! Our little team of beginners were able to fend off the opposition and claim almighty victory.
Listen, life isn’t just about the glory moments where you feel on top of the world. Really it isn’t and I know because i’ve been fortunate to have many. The best moments are those where you fail so miserably that you feel there is no return and yet you get back up, try so damn hard to do your best…and succeed.