So a bunch of us went to Chongching in a rented bus, the rugby team, mostly UK and Aussie people, the rest Americans, mostly men but there were 7 women on the bus for their own team, also rowdy.
Our game was in an abandoned stadium that looked like the set of a zombie movie. But there were still some fans present, determined to enjoy the spectacle of foreign men, and then foreign women, pummeling each other. Of course, in a country 1.3 billion people, there are always just enough locals to join in whatever madness foreigners are up to. Our teams had 2 or 3 Chinese players on each side out of 15 and one scored a try.
Eventually, photos will appear here, if not of the last games then of the next ones.
We played the expats from Kunming, beat them, and then Chongching, losing to them barely. It was the first ever contact rugby game for me and a few other rugby virgins. An all out game, with uniforms, referees and the like, to put some order and respectability on the chaos that is rugby.
Compared to American football, rugby seems raw, more primitive, with groups of people chasing each other down, yelling, mauling each other, and of course a grounded ball is not dead. It’s an ongoing free for all, tribal warfare really. In rugby, absolutely everyone gets battered and bruised, but extreme injuries are rare, though a Kunming guy had to get 6 stitches.
My competitive advantage is that I don’t overly care about my physical safety and enjoy going into the rucks, binding into scrums, and sometimes (when I can pluck the ball from the rucks) running with it, just to see how far I can get before I’m slammed into the ground. Usually not very far, if I don’t pass it. I’m not fast, but I’m reckless, and that earned me a few toasts later that night from people half my age.
Last night it was hard to even roll over and sleep on my side. Every muscle ached. A bit later, walking to work in the sunshine, I felt strangely and unexpectedly renewed.