This week at practice we’ve been working on our level of physical play and defending off breakdowns, since our next two games will be tough.
The kind of tough where secretly to myself I remember all the games I played in college, etc., and man, did I have it good back then on the pitch. I had no idea what the hell I was doing, but god wouldn’t it be great to travel back in time and rip up the pitch again (because obviously if I’m traveling back in time, I have my rugby skills now).
Seriously, like Quantum Leap but just for rugby games.
Our team is having a positive, yet frustrating season. Positive because our numbers – which looked in trouble last spring as we clawed our way up to 15 each game, then lost a whole truckload come summer – are at least enough for each game. And our new players are cool, fun to play with and scrappy as hell on the field. So it’s positive, we’re rebuilding and we’ll do a lot more in the offseason.
It’s frustrating though, because our league is so god damn tough. It’s frustrating to explain to our new players how we’re taking positive steps forward, but we might still lose all of our fall games. And even though other teams in the Midwest are struggling too right now for numbers, the four years I’ve been on our team as it struggles starts to wear a little on your mind and motivation.
We struggle in D-1 now. We didn’t always. We used to be quite a powerhouse team.
We would barely fit in D-2 right now, especially around here. I say that not because I think the D-2 teams here are weaker teams per se, just that we all play at different levels.
As a D-1 team, we practice and train at that level (or try to). You can’t play D-1 and, even struggling for numbers, not play up to that level because that is who your opponents are. Some of my teammates come play for us simply because we are D-1. They would suffer competition-wise on a D-2 team. More competitive and talented players help raise the competitive and talent levels of their whole team.
I can only think of one D-2 team in our half of the Midwest (within 6-7 hours travel time that is) that would give us regularly competitive games. If we were willing to travel 8-10 hours, that might open up to three or four teams.
It’s quite a debate.
I just remind everyone that this is probably the toughest rugby they have ever played, that they are taking leaps and bounds over what they might have played at in college or before joining our team (if they played before). That come spring, when we travel to a tournament or play friendlies, we’ll be notching big wins and working on recruiting to build up for next fall.
I hope we can do it. I don’t know how many more hard fall seasons our club can take.
And we get so frustrated with our friends on our men’s team. They are D-2. There are a bazillion men’s teams across the Midwest (okay, maybe like 100 plus, but still a lot). And our men’s team is really good. Going to likely win their conference this year and enter playoffs for a top spot in their league (multiple conferences in one league). Their league is full of men’s teams just like their team.
They don’t get why we struggle though. How we can be a decent team, yet lose our league games? My only explanation is to ask them how they would fare if they had to constantly play a league schedule of the Midwest’s top D-1 teams.
This opens up a whole discussion of dividing up the women’s leagues into more equitable leagues (some D-2s could likely be D-3s), which is instantly useless because there are just not enough women’s teams to do it. We wouldn’t have enough games to play.
So, yes, two more big games left this fall. And we’ll play our best … and we’ll just work harder to be the D-1 team we want to be.