Diary of a Rugby Wife (and mom)

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Hello, my name is Juliet and I have a confession to make: I am a Ruggerholic. I have noticed this addiction slowly creeping up on me for the past 20-something years. Rugby has taken over my life, and it seems that there is no cure. Other than divorce, maybe.

This addiction has come about not so much through a passion for the game so much as the fact that “if you can’t beat them, join them”. That doesn’t mean I have suddenly taken up playing the sport – I cannot claim to be a player, though I do regret that I didn’t ever take it up. I would have made a great rugby player. I am solid and strong and can catch and kick. Sometimes I go to the park with my son and practice my kicking, and I’m really pretty good. Sometimes I even manage to actually make contact with the ball.

My addiction has come about through necessity. As a rugby wife for over 20 years, and now a rugby mom, I have really had no choice but to become a rugby fan. I have watched hundreds and hundreds of games. I have been to meetings, fundraisers, pub nights, after-game jollies, pre-game jollies; and no-game jollies. I even once went on tour. OK, I was chaperoning my son, but it was Vegas so I am insisting that it does count. And I have endured – I mean enjoyed – a continual stream of rugby on TV screens throughout my house for years. If I hadn’t learned to love the sport, I would probably be living a much different life now. A single one.

I’m not complaining. My rugby life as a rugby wife is a great one. My first ever experience of watching the game was an international match at Twickenham in London in 1993, where I watched England beat New Zealand in a nail-biting, passionate and exciting game  – not a bad introduction to the sport. I’m sorry; I can’t remember the score, or even the significance of the game. I don’t retain facts. My experience with rugby is more personal than that.  Which means I remember the way I felt at the time, just not actually why I felt it. I do know England won, and as I am English (now living in Canada), that made me feel fantastic. It was more than that actually. It was the atmosphere; the passion; the camaraderie; the excitement…and that was just the crowd. I had never experienced anything like it. That was the day I got hooked.

My rugby life as a rugby mom is less great. Despite my belief that it is a safer game than football or hockey, I still find it hard to watch my little boy on the field. I should probably mention that my little boy is 16 years old, 6 feet tall and weighs around 200 pounds. But that’s not the point. I cringe when he is at the bottom of a ruck, or a scrum, or a tackle. And as a prop, that’s often where he will be. I have so far resisted the urge to run onto the field and make sure he’s OK. But sometimes it’s been difficult.

Like the game itself, the life of a rugby mom can be tough, and demanding… and a lot of fun.