Three years ago, after a 14-year soccer career, I switched my focus to college rugby for numerous reasons -- I could be more physical, it was a club sport, it was less time-consuming, etc. Switching sports was the best decision I could have made, as I cannot imagine my life without rugby. Sure, I loved soccer, but I was never passionate about it. It was just something I had always done.
Rugby is different. Rugby envelops you, gives you an adrenaline rush and teaches you to push through. Rugby is all-consuming, and has taught me well-beyond these 14 bullet points.
1. "YOU play rugby?" will be a typical response when someone learns that you, yes you, play the sport even though you are not an unattractive, 350-pound lesbian.
2. There is no such thing as an attractive action shot when wearing a scrum cap and mouth guard. Want to look cute? Go play volleyball.
3. Opposing teams can be friends. Even with 30 girls on the field, cattiness is almost non-existent in rugby games. Each team understands that the game is physical and that people will be hurt accidentally. It rarely amounts to more than competition. In fact, players are friends on and off the pitch, and even go grab a beer together after a game.
4. Based off of your bruises and cuts, people will be legitimately concerned that you are in an abusive relationship and question you accordingly.
5. You will never have dainty, little, booty-short-worthy thighs.
6. Most guys will find that fact that you play a rough, painful sport to be attractive rather than be turned off by it.
7. Although getting pummeled in the breasts is never pleasant, it is even less pleasant when it comes with a large amount of momentum all packed behind an elbow and a direct hit.
8. Even after playing soccer with the same girls for 14 years, that bond does not compare to the bond you have with your rugby teammates. Something about pushing your bodies to the limits together for 80 minutes, having your head way too close to their asses in scrums, and protecting each from physical harm brings about a closeness that no other sport compares to.
9. Showering after a game is the best and worst thing in the world. Best, because it feels fantastic to get mud and sweat off your body. Worst, because it hurts like hell and you discover all the injuries you were not aware of.
10. Any body type is welcomed. Oh, you gained 20 pounds? Don't worry, you can switch positions. You lost 30 pounds? We have a spot for you as well.
11. Some women actually can outdrink men.
12. You will never appreciate a shower more than you do after three days of rugby games and a toga party with no shower. It. Is. Heavenly.
13. If you have fake nails, you will not be playing rugby. If you have long nails for that matter, you will not be playing rugby. During the season, the privilege of having presentable nails is a no-no.
14. If you are in the middle of an awkward silence with someone you just met, bring rugby into the conversation. It is bound to keep, or at least start, a conversation since it is still not overly common in the U.S.
Follow Beth Leipholtz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/el9292