Over the years that Lara and I spent together I became something of a Rugby wag… I quite often drove Lara and her team mates to their away matches or rounded up Heidi and Daryl and we’d be shouting our support from the sidelines. It was good fun, I got to know a few of her team mates and they all seemed like really cool people. I was often surprised that they didn’t stick around too long after the games to socialise.
When Lara first started playing I was skeptical about whether she’d stick it out. I think I’ve already mentioned that I teased her a bit when she first mentioned it because she could be a bit of a pansy sometimes when it came to her pain threshold. I knew that I wouldn’t be interested in playing, it’s not the physicality that turned me off, more so the idea of getting mud under my nails. Christ, that makes me sound about a hundred times more girly than I truly am.
Growing up I had done martial arts, Karate specifically and by the time I was thirteen I’d gotten my black belt and then would do it for a while and quit and follow that cycle, mostly not doing it. Over time I began to see how much fun Lara was having at rugby and that she had a pretty cool group of friends through it so I thought it might not be a bad idea to give it a go. Only one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to join the same club. So I put it off.
At the time I was going to and fro with my desire to start playing rugby myself Lara suffered a bit of a blow. She’d heard that at the end of their current season their ladies rugby team would not have the continued support of the club. That meant that Lara too would be looking for another team to play with. There was no way she would give up rugby, in the short time she’d been playing she’d established a love for the sport and giving up just wasn’t an option.
Lara found a team that was just starting up, we scouted out the place together and she started training with them. Around about the same time Heidi had expressed an interest in playing, she had some knowledge through some friends about another ladies club starting up in the area. So all of a sudden we went from knowing of no ladies clubs in the area after Lara’s team folded to having the choice of two. This seemed ideal for me, I was looking for a club to train with yet didn’t want to step on Lara’s toes, rugby had been her thing and I didn’t want to muscle in on her friends or take the sanctuary of it away from her.
So still I put off the idea of playing for now. Not to mention I was scared and still put off by the cold and the wet and the mud and the bruises. I kept up my dutiful role on the sidelines, ferrying players to and from matches, cheering and even berating the ref on the odd occasion. Still I was surprised at the lack of a social life among Lara’s team, the whole time they played together there was only really one night out that Lara went along to.
Eventually Heidi and I decided that we would check out the other local team. I was quite lucky with the shifts I was working then to be able to accommodate most training sessions however Heidi couldn’t. It was difficult just nailing down a time when we would both go check it out. Eventually I went along by myself. I was glad I did, the club was a bit out of the way and just starting up so to begin with I wasn’t even sure if I’d found the right place.
Eventually I plucked up enough courage to introduce myself and find out a bit about who was who and get a feel for the place. Now this was more like it, straight after training all the girls headed to the golf club next door for drinks. If I was going to join a sports team this kind of social life was a must. After that I was a regular at training and I even surprised myself with how much I didn’t mind the cold and the wet and the mud and the bruises.
This is where things get a little odd. Lara and I were seeing even less of each other now. We trained on different days of the week for one thing. Secondly when Lara would go training she’d be there for the hour or two when they were all out on the field and then come straight back home, for me I was out all night chatting and drinking with the girls after the training session. I wasn’t getting drunk or anything since I had to drive to training every week but it was enough for Lara to begin to feel a little jealous and resentful.
I think by chance I had found everything in a rugby team that she had been looking for and since I’d consciously made the choice not to encroach on her rugby territory she would have to reciprocate. Of course after a while I relented on that score but we’ll cover that when it comes important to our story.
So what made me decide it was time to leave the sidelines? I was getting fit. At the turn of 2011 I had resolved to really do something about my lifestyle and make some improvements. This included swimming, running, going to the gym regularly and eating a bit healthier. It was a big ask but I was committed to the idea as I didn’t want to be a fat bridesmaid when it came round to my brothers wedding in 2012. It was crazy how determined and motivated I was back then to make these changes. I think in some way I was taking control of my life again, I’d spent too long just coasting along and letting life take me on a journey, 2011 would be the year when I would start making changes for me. I would’t be on the sidelines anymore.