Now that the brew over the Belmont Shore – Austin Valkyries challenge match seems to have slowed down a bit, I thought I should cap it.
I received several well-written messages from leadership on both teams. And after thinking about it for a while, I can see both sides.
I fully admit that when someone first told me about it, I didn’t think it was very fair. Again, this was my very initial thought. Legal yes, but not “fair”. And I thought immediately of a men’s team here in the Midwest.
This men’s team has wholeheartedly used their local resources (in this particular case, allegedly a very wealthy benefactor) to bolster their team, propelling themselves up the division chain and dominating their competition. I met some of the guys that play for this team recently. All nice guys. It was a mix of local guys, a few foreign players and then young American guys from all over the states who had played abroad in Scotland, New Zealand, etc., and then were recruited to this team. In essentially the middle of nowhere. The team plays by the rules, but many of their opponents view the team negatively for this alleged “roster loading”.
And this men’s team is just powerful and fast. You can clearly see that the talent brought in raises the play of every member of the team. It’s like that on every team, though, isn’t it? One player who brings everything they’ve got to practice and games will naturally spread that to their teammates.
Psychologically, you also have to wonder if their opponents haven’t already stepped on the field ready to lose because they know what this team can bring.
But that’s the gist of the argument isn’t it?
The rules are what they are. They were created to cover the broad spectrum of possible issues that can happen on the field and to a team. Teams are supposed to follow the rules. The rules are what make the game fair.
Should we find fault with a team who followed the rules and then won a game? Should we lambast them because the rules allow teams to add new players – foreign and domestic – that can play rugby well? Should we label their opponents as victims because the opposition didn’t have the same level of speed, talent, skills, recruiting, support, mentality, as the winning team?
The answer on any given day is No.
Every player, every team out there needs to know that when you step on the field for a game, you need to be ready for what’s coming at you.
We all need to stop pointing fingers at others and looking within ourselves. Asking ourselves if we are following the rules? Are we playing rugby well? Are we bringing the same level of speed, talent, skills, recruiting, support, mentality as who we are about to play?
And to win games and to succeed as a team, as a sport, that answer on any given day needs to be Yes.
To both the women of Belmont Shore and to the Austin Valkyries, good luck in the rest of your seasons. I look forward to the opportunity to possibly play your teams at Sweet 16s next fall.