My name is Jack. I work for one of American Sin Bin’s sister companies. This means two things: 1) I have the same propensity for all-out bouts of alcohol-induced craziness as ASB employees, and 2) I share a lot of their traits minus the knowledge and playing experience in rugby.
It’s not that I’m unaware of the gritty toughness it takes to play rugby (you know…because I’ve seen Invictus) or the time-honored traditions of the game, it’s just that I’ve never really been exposed to it in person. Everything I’ve known about the sport prior to a few months ago was mainly from the people I work with at ASB—largely because they won’t SHUT THE FUCK UP about it.
Come hither, my friends. I have a story to tell you.
I grew up playing team sports. I served in the Marine Corps. I have a pretty damn good idea what it takes to operate in high-tempo situations, but nothing prepared me for the knockdown shit-fest I experienced when I went to my first rugby match.
ASB Alexis walked up to me as we were nearing the end of Friday.
“Sooooo, what are you doing tonight?” she asked.
Without skipping a beat I responded, “I’ll probably end up drinking too much by nine and pass out anywhere but my bed… Followed by the standard Saturday morning wakeup where I scratch my head as to why I downloaded a bunch of Phil Collins songs. What are you doing?”
“You’re a fuckin’ idiot,” she replied. “You finally gonna come to one of our rugby matches?”
“Yes, as long as you do that drinking thing you always do after the game,” I said.
“You mean social? Yeah, we’ll be having a social.” she said with an unamused look.
Without hesitation I gave my reply, “Then I shall be a social butterfly.”
“You’re a dumbass—game’s at seven,” she said while rolling her eyes.
So my girlfriend and I got to the field just as the game was underway. For the sake of brevity, I’ll list of the main things I learned about the game just by watching my first match in person:
1) Rugby is fast. Everything from the physical abilities of the individual players to the natural pace of the game is plain old fast.
2) Rugby is tough. Mind you, I’ve seen Invictus, like, five times, so I was pretty much an expert on the game going into it. But seeing Matt Damon majestically run down the pitch on the big screen and watching a bunch of pissed off looking female ruggers crashing into each other in real life are two different things. I immediately gained respect for the game just by watching the no-whining, fuck-the-world fierceness displayed on the field.
3) Not knowing the exact rules of the game going into it (I still don’t, for the most part), it was clear to me that rugby was as much about toughness and finesse as it was about planning and preparation. I respected that.
4) I automatically gain respect for anything that’s not basketball. That’s a stupid sport.
Around halftime we were met by two other ASB employees, ASB Remy and ASB Lisa. They walked up to us munching on this gigantic burritos they bought from a corner food joint.
Remy was raised in Europe as an Air Force brat and never really spent time in the States until her adult years. It has been my standing policy to make jokes about that at every opportunity.
“Be careful, Remy,” I said, “them there are American burritos. They might wreak havoc on your crepe-based diet.”
Remy gave me one of those I-will-cut-a-bitch looks and responded, “Have you had anything to eat yet?”
“No, we’ll probably get something later,” I said.
“Bitch, you’re going to pay,” she replied in a straight-faced manner.
The game ended and Remy, Lisa, Alexis, my girlfriend and I huddled up for a quick plan of attack for the after party. The unanimous decision was that we needed to drink. If only Congress could work that efficiently.
Before I go any further, I just want to state that I have a solid constitution. I’m not saying this to brag or anything, but I had a reputation in Texas for being able to put away large amounts of alcohol without any major problems (e.g. puking, pissing myself, getting emotional, getting belligerently violent, going all John Riggins on my dinner hosts, etc).
We all met up at the bar that Remy chose and immediately got into the beer. Awesome.
Then it was on to the cocktails. Even better.
And, of course, we eventually head into shots territory. HOORAY!
Hindsight is a convenient fuckin’ thing because if I would have known now what I knew then, I would have never gone out with them. These broads were essentially getting me liquored up to break me. I imagine it was a half “Welcome to rugby” thing and half “You’re going to pay for being overconfident” thing
It wasn't one of those convenient drunk experiences where I lost control of my functions and passed out, either. They had essentially backed me into booze-fueled corner and were making me uncomfortable with the amount of booze they were consuming and shoving down my gullet. Every time I tried to just pass out at the table (and trust me, I physically tried to make myself pass out), they would physically pry my mouth open and pour more shots down my throat.
My damned girlfriend wasn't being any help because, I later found out, she had conspired with the ASB booze horde to make me eat my words.
It was pure, unadulterated pandemonium…and I had no one to blame but myself.
Alright, here’s a short list of things I remember from there:
- I was literally carried out of the bar by all four of the girls, which has officially ranked #1 in the most emasculating moments of my life.
- Once I was able to regain a toddler-level ability to walk, I was poked and prodded to a local corner store where Remy came walking out with a bunch of 40 oz. of malt liquor.
- I drank about half of mine in the parking lot before every single thing I drank prior came rushing back up like Mt. St. Helens.
- The Somali parking lot guy saved my life by threatening to call the cops on all of us, therefore forcing my girlfriend to put me in the car and take me home.
- I woke up the next morning with the most horrific hangover of my life…and a bunch of new Phil Collins songs on my iTunes.
It has been a little over two months since that night. I have no desire to watch Invictus ever again as I fear it will trigger some sort of Pavlovian response associated with rugby that will cause be to puke everywhere.
That was my first rugby game and social. I learned a lot in those few hours—mainly that you motherfuckers are a bunch of sadists.