Scott De Buitléir learns the truth about rugby, but still keeps his eye open for a handsome winger …
“You’re just doing it to bag a guy, aren’t you?”
I giggled to myself as my English cousin quickly jumped to this conclusion. Even though we were messaging over Facebook, I could have easily imagined him smiling (or laughing) as he asked me that question. I had just told him that I’d agreed to take up rugby with the local gay team. Truth be told, he was only partly right – or so I thought at first!
Rugby was something that had been indirectly bred into me since I was a kid, yet I’d never played it myself. My secondary school was amongst a handful in Dublin that had a strong tradition of rugby. If you didn’t want to play it during PE, you were made learn the chants to support those who did. I always hated PE in school, but soon regretted not getting involved once I got older.
All that said about getting fit, I noticed about a year ago that I was coming to the age where the friends I made in university were fading away. I’d still be friends with them, but we wouldn’t see each other as regularly as we used to. So, I wasn’t being entirely naïve when I once said on certain dating apps that I was looking for dates and mates – I needed to branch out a bit and stop being such a hermit. Quickly though, I learned that neither new friends nor Mister Right were waiting for me online, so I decided to make a proper effort with some offline methods.
What are you doing? I kept asking myself as I made my way into the city, where I would be picked up by one of the players to go to the training grounds. You’re insane. You’re tiny, unfit and insane. You’ll be killed on the pitch, if not humiliated. Turn around now and go to some café, like the artsy eejit you’ve become. Despite my self-bullying, my body didn’t listen. It was as if it knew my mind would protest, and took on an attitude of its own to override it. Three hours later, my body might have regretted that decision.
If anyone ever thought rugby is sexy, they need to try playing it themselves. It’s not – whatever you may think about the players off the pitch. Every bit of me hurt. My legs gave up on life entirely, while my arms never had to do much more in life than pick up a pen or a pint glass. Now, they had to push me off the ground and push other people away. It took me most of the week to recover, yet I couldn’t wait to go back. From the moment I nervously stepped onto the field where the team were practising, the last thing I could ever think is if a player is attractive, because I’d be terrified of them tackling me instead. If it’s not fear of that, it’s realising that my beginner’s status is not hot.
As for the team themselves (who will remain nameless here, though Googling ‘Dublin gay rugby’ would identify them quickly enough!) I couldn’t have picked a better team to start training with. The guys are friendly, supportive and for the first time ever, I don’t feel intimidated by trying out a sport. Better still, I wasn’t the only newbie, and I wasn’t the smallest guy there. I’m probably – actually no, certainly – the weakest, but that’s something that will hopefully change with time and effort. At the end of my first two sessions, I’ve had sore limbs and a bruised ego, but I couldn’t wait for the next time. Seems I’m a bigger glutton for punishment than I thought. I’ve a massive amount of respect for these players, and if I can become half as good as some of them, I’d be chuffed.
Still though, if a handsome winger wants to strike up a conversation in the pub after a game, we’ll see how that goes.