How Old is too Old to play rugby?

I mentioned this in my earlier post recapping the weekend here, but we have two new players that are age 43 and 44.

And when I say new, I mean new to rugby. Never played, never practiced, never really seen a game. They both asked me if I thought it was crazy that they try rugby and I said, give it a try, do your best and if you show up for practices and want to play, we’ll play you.

They come to practices, work hard and played in our game Saturday. One started at tighthead prop and was my lifter in our lineouts. One started at wing.

It is worth noting that we are rebuilding our roster. With a larger roster, both of these players – and any newer players – would be developmental roster and not starting in an A-side. But we all know how it goes with small rosters …

I rode down and back to Chicago with our new wing. She’s 43 and joined the team to try something new. She’s athletic, but working on her fitness. She looks like she’s 43.

She told me before our game Saturday that a friend of hers told her that if she played rugby, it would be selfish and stupid at her age. Basically, because if she got hurt, others would need to help take care of her. She disagreed and said that she didn’t understand why anyone else cared what she did with her time and her body.

Later, after our social, she also mentioned that an older alum of the other team made similar comments about her age being too old to start playing rugby. Our new player said she thought it was because this other woman had already stopped playing and needed to justify to herself why she had stopped. Was our new player right or was the other woman right? Is there a right answer? I think it’s different for each person.

I started mulling this all over in my head though. Is there an age where you are too old to play rugby? Especially to start playing rugby?

Do we really even have this discussion for men?

Sunday was the Ironman triathlon here in Madison. I got up early to watch the swim start near my house. The PA was congratulating all the first-time Ironman participants and mentioned how all of them have stories why they are doing the race. He mentioned a 46-year-old woman, in her first race, who had beaten ovarian cancer. I wonder if anyone told her she was too old to be an Ironman competitor?

Our team is comprised of mostly 20-somethings, with a few 30-somethings. I firmly believe that I don’t have the right to tell another woman that they shouldn’t play rugby, if they are there working their butt off to play and be a part of our team.

Would I tell a woman who’s overweight and can’t keep up with the drills that she can’t play, if she’s out there working? Do I tell a woman who’s much smaller than the rest of us that she can’t play?

Just curious what everyone thinks …

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9 Comments

Filed under Blondie: my thoughts

9 responses to “How Old is too Old to play rugby?

  1. Arni

    Great topic, one that I feel qualified to discuss, having just turned 51. One is never too old to either start or continue to play rugby! While I have been playing for over 30 years now, we have had several players older than myself pick up Rugby with our team. One did not start until his late 50’s, learned the game and played with us for several years before his life became to complicated to continue. With men’s sides it is much easier as there is already established a decent old boys network of teams, festivals and tournements (at least here in New England). As the Women’s teams age, I’m sure they will also develop/join in the Oldies festivities. While I play every week that I am able to (mostly B side at this point) some of the Old Boys only play once a year – but they still play no matter the age. For anyone other than yourself or loved ones to suggest you are told old to play Rugby is IMHO rather repugnant.

  2. BigMoneyKev

    Age has nothing to do with Rugby.

    For the Fog, DIII club, the starting tighthead is 44, playing only 4 years.

    That means he started at 40.

    My dad played into his 50s, and stopped because he was called up to God’s XV.

    I say good on your ancient rookies.

  3. Anonymous

    Well, our world is a conformist world. Not so much that everyone is prejudiced, it is just that if things are outside the age norm then people naturally notice. This is unavoidable and takes some inner strength to overcome all the noise.

    I don’t think being old is as much an issue as a woman’s athletic experience with contact sports together with consistent conditioning. If a woman has been playing hockey/lacrosse/soccer on a serious level continually since her teens then it is not an issue… But if a woman is trying rugby out has her first sport, at any age, then it is an serious issue.

    There are some goofy things about being older in terms of the opinions of others. I remember running 3 consecutive full field tries in 7s this summer. Some wiseguy on the sideline, who knew my age, remarked that I was breathing heavy… No kidding…

    -P

  4. Anonymous

    I’ve seen ladies play into their 40s, and would never tell them not to. Don’t forget that folks like Liz Kirk and Patty Jervey played for the national team at such ages. As far as I am concerned, you can play until you are dead if you want to.

  5. Arni

    An addendum to my first comment – I have figured out now when you are to old to play Rugby. Last night my daughter, a freshman in college called to let us know she has joined the Women’s team – maybe that’s a sign my time is up?

  6. Anonymous

    I say the more women playing rugby, the better, no matter the age. I don’t think it’s ever too late to do anything. If the Army raised its age limit to 40, why can’t 40 yr. olds play rugby? I think everyone has a certain amount of time to play rugby because the body eventually gives out. Some of us find rugby in college, the lucky ones in h.s., but if others don’t find it until they’re 40+, who cares?

    -J

  7. Anonymous

    Depends what the aim of the team is. If you’re a serious league side, then you play on merit, age has nothing to do with it. If you’re too slow or small, you get cut. If it’s more of a social team, then I’d pick anyone who wanted to come training.

  8. Anonymous

    I’ve been playing for 40 years, I am 45 and just recently had the highlight of my rugby career – playing a few games with my son (age 16 now).
    Guillermo (an argie in California).

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