Rugby is one of the most misunderstood sports in the United States. Although the popularity of playing rugby is increasing in the US, the game still remains an enigma to many people. So when I tell people I play Rugby I usually get a lot of questions. The two most common questions I get are “Isn’t Rugby like football without pads?” and “How many injuries and concussions have you gotten”. This blog is mostly going to focus on the latter of the two questions. However, to address the first question briefly, the two games are not similar except for the fact that there is tackling involved. If you have never seen rugby here is a highlight video.
To answer the second question I would like to start off by giving you facts about rugby injuries before moving on to the benefits of playing rugby. When most people in America think of Rugby they presume that the concussion level is high, but to the contrary, this data supplied by American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that number of visits to the emergency room with concussions in 2009 shows that Rugby comes 17th on the list with 5,794, while sports like football reported 47,000 cases which ranked second behind cycling.
Although injuries are a part of Rugby, like all other sports, what I think sets Rugby apart from other sports are the physical and mental benefits there are to gain from playing. Like all sports there are incredible physical benefits to gain from playing Rugby. Health Fitness Revolution lists off many broad benefits such as increased muscle strength, flexibility, an improved cardiovascular system, increased bone density, and the ability to develop greater speed and endurance. A further in depth study by the Rugby Football Union has shown that playing rugby reduces type 2 diabetes and colon cancer by 50%, heart disease and stroke by 35%, and early death, depression, and dementia by 30%. While all the physical benefits are important I believe that it is the mental development one gains from playing rugby is the most important.
As my coach in high school said to us before every game, Rugby is a thinking man’s game and if you are not prepared to think then you are not prepared to play. I think that this could not be truer. Rugby is a game based on quick thinking and discipline on the field, as well as a game of community and friendship off the field.
Returning to the study done by Health Fitness Revolution, playing rugby helps to develop increased self-confidence and self-respect, discipline, helps build mental toughness and resilience, and improves the overall mental state through camaraderie and a sense of purpose. While playing on the field each player needs to fight through physical exhaustion to stay disciplined and maintain tactics. Rugby though, does not end after the final whistle, but continues as the tradition is for the home team to host the away team to a meal. This tradition teaches sportsmanship and develops social skills, as well as furthering the sense of camaraderie within the rugby community.
“‘Rugby Is a Fantastic Sport for Children'” England Rugby. N.p., 02 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.englandrugby.com/news/why-rugby-good-for-you/>
“The American Association of Neurological Surgeons.” AANS. N.p., Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.aans.org/patient%20information/conditions%20and%20treatments/sports-related%20head%20injury.aspx>
“Top 10 Health Benefits of Rugby • Health Fitness Revolution.” Health Fitness Revolution. N.p., 15 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-health-benefits-rugby/>