Every Day is Rugby Day in SA. Part 1

I’ve survived our first week here in South Africa, and by “survived” I mean extremely enjoyed! “Survived” makes it sound like I’m suffering, and while that may be true for a few moments during the multiple fitness sessions we have each day, it’s a good kind of pain :D This week was FULL of rugby, excitement, emotion, blood (subs), sweat (but no tears), early mornings, more sweat, warm sunny days, one rainy day, rugby, and did I mention RUGBY? We received a schedule at the start of the week on Monday with the plan for each day and I’ve shared it here on the blog. It’s guaranteed to change. In fact it was changed immediately after we received them. That’s why I’ve been updating it with our actual activity, so you can know what we’re up to every day! It’s a good way to show you that we’re alive and happy even if I haven’t written a new blog post, right? :P

Monday 3/17 (Day 4 of the quest)

I woke up on Monday at 6:20 and got dressed for my first mountain (Bergpad) run. Unfortunately (or fortunately) all the others were still asleep. I waited and woke them up at 7 but it was already too late to make it there and back and there again for class at 9. Darn! My fault. We ate breakfast, dropped off our laundry to the laundromat near the mall, and went to the stadium for law session.

In law session we discussed good/bad/different positions at lineouts and scrums. Hendrik also had us participate in demos when we discussed the chariot/saddle position. He said,

“Chariot is not a position, it’s a transition”

We took a (very long) law exam and then began to self-“grade” it by going through the law book as a group, finding, and writing down exactly which law applied to each question, since it is good practice to know what each law, by number, section, and letter addresses in the game. I think if I was once able to recite all the lines from every LoTR movie (extended versions) then eventually I’ll get this too! Practice and repetition is gold.

After law session we went on the mountain run. I think it was scenic but I wasn’t paying attention to that. After lunch Geoff and I went to trials at a local school (U11 and U13s) while Evan, Ryan, and Kahlil had a (one-sided) game, Somerset College vs. a Canadian touring side I believe.

“You Americans really like to warm up don’t you?” – Hendrik.

LOL. It’s true I do like to warm up and stretch more than the others. We played 2 15 minute periods at trials with no scrums, no lineouts, and no kicking in front of the 22. If any of those things happened, it was a FK restart (no quick takes of course). There were quite a few selectors in one stand and parents / family in the other. Surrounding us was an outdoor pool, netball courts, the school, mini skate ramps, and more sprawling green fields for field hockey and other activities. I love this sports town and all the athletic outdoor space!

Kickoff for Geoff's game
Kickoff for Geoff’s game.
View behind us
The view behind us.

Highlights of my notes from trials:

  • In 4 days I haven’t yet seen a dropped kickoff, and there have been TONS of kickoffs!
  • I consciously let minor infringements go if the ball was won by the attacking team since the selectors wanted to see more rugby and less restarts. Flow!
  • Don’t underestimate kids – if I relaxed too much then I found myself too far behind
  • Was reminded again about impressive handling with kids who’ve been playing rugby throughout their upbringings
  • Imagine D1 college men’s rugby in the US being played by mini people = the U11 U13 rugby I saw today
The players always quickly trade jerseys around during breaks in tryout games.
The players always quickly trade jerseys during breaks in tryout games.

After trials and dinner we all went to the Varsity Cup game, Maties v Tukkies and it was HYPEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think it was the best live atmosphere sporting event I’ve been to. I imagine this is what football games at a football college might be like back in the states, but this is even better because it was rugby!!!!11 IT WAS EPIC. They blasted dance music throughout the game that included a lot of American 90s dance party songs like Cotton Eyed Joe, the Macarena, Born in the USA, and the Country Road / West Virginia song haha. Also their pre-game music during warm up included songs from Gladiator and one of the NBA Intro songs (for ESPN maybe?). There was a wide selection of “pop” EDM too of course. I loved it. At halftime they selected the 10 craziest fans and had each of them try to kick a ball into a square about 40m away. For the entire Varsity Cup season Geoff had never seen it done before but then THE FIRST GUY GOT IT IN! AND THEN ANOTHER GIRL OMGOMG!!!!!! They each won 10,000 Rand ($1000)!!!!!!!!! HYPE.

Variations for Varsity Cup:

  • Try is 5 pts still but Conversion is 3 pts and PK is 2 pts.
  • Any kick caught anywhere on the pitch has FK advantage
  • Dual ref system
  • Quarter time strategy break
  • Pink ball & pink shorts
    • If a try is scored with the pink ball which comes in for a few minutes after quartertime breaks, money is donated to a women’s related foundation. Breast cancer was the first year but every year it’s a different cause.
    • 1 player on the home team wore hot pink shorts

And that concludes my first Monday in Stellenbosch, SA. I still have 4 more days to write about, wow! Maybe I am too detailed – what do you all think? What do you like to read about? More pictures and fewer words? (That may be difficult given our limited data situation…) More/less lists (like law variations), personal reflections, excited capslock spam… ? Keep doing what I’m doing? Let me know in the comments below or I’ll just keep swimming writing. I imagine posts will evolve to have more highlights and less scene-setting as time goes on. Thanks for reading!

Every Day is Rugby Day in SA. Part 1

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