Touch Rugby

A story about discovering your true self and pushing your boundaries.


1. Yesterday

Yesterday I played touch rugby. Apart from one –rather miserable-  try with 30 kiwi’s where I stood in the field like a muppet -not understanding any of the rules!- I never watched or played the game in my life. I rode horses when I was young. 


Balls scare me. Can’t really throw ‘em, let alone catch ‘em.


But the opportunity arose to play the game at a party yesterday, so I decided to try and understand the rules this time. Go for it.


I slowly felt I got the hang of it. It went something like this: ‘Touch, three meters back, changeover, run!’. Whoops, I dropped the ball again! But hey, you have to practice to learn.


Then after 30 minutes, things got serious. One player turned out to be a fanatic, my fellow teammate wanted to discuss tactics.  The referee yelled pointers. And suddenly frustration kicked in. Three men telling me what to do, all at the same time. Confusion. When needing to ask a question, the game just went on and the opposite team already scored.  Too slow Aukje!


Frustration grew into anger, and before I knew it, I gave my team mate my most dirty look, tackled a player, and pinched the referee. Rather nasty, yes. After calming down, I thought about my frustration. Was it because I hate being told what to do? Because I hate being bad at something? Or just felt like  ‘a girl’, only slowly understanding the rules of a game that was new to me?


Whatever it was, I again discovered a darker side of my personality. Funnily enough these dark sides always arise when I challenge myself into doing something I haven’t done before and are not too comfortable with. Somehow most of us are only good at certain things. We choose to do only those, and forget about the rest. The sporty girl never challenges herself intellectually and the tough guy will never try yoga. Of course I am generalizing here.


Perhaps that is why I never played team or ball games as a child… I’m simply better at a solo sport, or with my nose in a book. But what if you never really get to know your full self, unless you challenge yourself into doing something that is out of your comfort zone? Maybe you can’t really grow as a person until you have seen and understood your less likable sides, and are able to deal with them. It’s from the rough patches, the stains you get on your brand new white summer jeans from sliding on the grass, that you truly learn who you are.


Balls still scare me. But eventually, they will help bring out the best in me.

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