Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Rugby in a Tie

Hyrum's first rugby season is over. He played for the same club Ben and Micah did--the club that has consistently taken the state U18 championship for almost ten years now, I think.

Hyrum went into the season expecting a similar outcome for his U14 team. 

They didn't win a single game. Not one. A few games they got skunked--we're talking 110 to 0, 146 to 0. Needless to say, their season is over. No playoffs for the Knights this year.

That's pretty painful, but I valued his experience on a losing team. There are lessons in constantly losing that can't be taught any other way.

He was one of the smallest on the team (not yet 13), and one of the smaller guys as well. That's hard when you're on the ground or in a scrum or fighting to get the ball from a ruck. But Hyrum didn't let his size define his season.

He was new to rugby--never played a game and didn't know the rules. But he diligently went to practice, learned fast and listened to the coaches.

He hates to lose. Doesn't everyone, but Denton boys are notorious for the competitive streak. Ironically, after games, he got in the car and wouldn't be fuming angry over the losses. He'd be bugged or mad, but as the losses accumulated, he began to let losing roll off him in a way he couldn't learn if they won. They went into each game with hope that this game would be theirs. They came close a few times, but never really challenged an opponent all season.

Best lesson of all: On top of all the losing, only two boys on the pitch Never. Gave. Up. no matter how bad the score looked. One was Hyrum. No matter how many times the opposition would take off down the field, Hyrum ALWAYS gave chase from wherever he was on the field. He ran as fast as he could, even when it was obvious to everyone--and him--that he had no chance of catching his opponent. Now that's a life lesson right there. Never give up fighting even though loss is inevitable.

He fought to protect the ball when he was on the ground. He never shrank when confronting an opponent six to eight inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, taking down a few guys much bigger than he is through sheer tenacity and fight. He took cleats to the face and back and legs even when in the protected position on the ground, then he'd jump up and hustle into position again.

He spun and cut and pushed and earned the second top-scoring spot on the team, making a season average 2 tries per game (when you recognize that two of the games were scoreless for his team, you can appreciate that stat a little better).

No trophies for the perennial losers. No accolades. Not even a playoff game to close out a dismal season.

He did bring this black eye home from his final game where he scored three of their five tries in an uneven matchup that doubled his team's efforts. He said he was basically punched in the eye as the guy tried to stiff-arm him.

Sporting the shiner all spiffed up for church.
His coach called me this week to tell me how impressed they were with his progress this season. He recognized how hard it is to play for the bottom team and how hard Hyrum worked at every practice and in every game.
Personally, I'm content with the black eye prize. Tenacity in the face of loss. Scrap and fight and work hard, no matter the outcome. Life lesson.

This made me think of Terence Vinson's talk from October General Conference when he referenced two injuries he received on the rugby pitch when he was young--a fat lip and a broken jaw. He said

"Lessons were learned from this parable of the fat lip and the broken jaw. Despite my memories of unsatisfied cravings for solid food during the six weeks when I could ingest only liquids, I feel no regrets about my broken jaw because it resulted from my giving my all. But I do have regrets about the fat lip because it symbolized my holding back.
Giving our all doesn’t mean that we will be continually enveloped in blessings or always have success. But it does mean that we will have joy. Joy is not fleeting pleasure or even temporary happiness. Joy is enduring and is founded on our efforts being accepted by the Lord."
Hyrum already told me he will be back at wing on the rugby pitch next season.

And I'll be there on the sidelines cheering for him, no matter what.

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