A few months ago I came across a Facebook page that caught my interest Twin Cities Amazons Rugby.. Turns out, we have a women rugby team (actually there’s two) and I decided to drive down to Eagan to catch their match vs the Atlanta Harlequins.
As I was my usual clueless self about team sports I did a bit of reading before the game about the differences between American Football and Rugby. So the most basic:
- 15 players on each team with only 7 substitutions available
- Everyone plays offense and defense
- The game does not stop when a player is tackled, the ball gets picked up immediately
- A game is 2 40 minute periods and the clock only stops for major injuries.
- Protective gear? What protective gear? You mean the optional light head padding?
- Tackles are different, not as violent as in football, but then grabbing shirts and shorts seems to be perfectly acceptable.
- There are no forward passes. They have to be either backwards or lateral.
Armed with that knowledge, and having photographed a few football games I thought I was ready. Well I was not. For the first 10 or so minutes the hardest thing for me was figuring out where the ball actually was. Rugby is a very fluid game with the ball constantly being passed from one player to the other. Those Football trick plays that make the highlight reels and seem incredibly rehearsed and complex. That’s pretty much the standard in rugby. I can’t even imagine how athletes keep track on the field.
My second impression – this sport is not for the faint of heart. While the tackles are not as brutally hard as in football, there’s no padding softening them. And players get tackled a lot like several times in the same play. There were bruises, abrasions and a couple of bleeding noses (stick a tissue in and keep playing).
As the game went on I became more familiar with the action and began to see some of the tactics employed. The Amazons lost that match 22-45 but it nonetheless was fun to watch and I for one will be back. Check out the teams upcoming schedule on their FB Page