the unifying power of sport — yars

It was the fifth rugby match of the weekend. Win and play once more for the championship.

I stood on the sidelines. Last game someone had rolled up my leg, leaving me limping, with a contusion that would be an angry purple from my knee to my hip in a few days. Lou, our brilliant fullback, was with me watching. Saving a try ( touchdown ) with a desperate, diving tackle, Lou took the man down, rewarded with a knee to the temple. Knocked out for over two minutes, he was now mostly concerned if graduate school had started. About every five minutes he would ask me, reassured that it was next week.

On the field the action was fierce, hard. The Cleveland Blues dueled a team from Lusaka South Africa. This was in the late 1970s, twenty years before the end of apartheid, and this team of Afrikaners included a black winger.

It was a scrum match, the ball staying close to the pack where the large men hammered each other. My roommate, Marty, was everywhere, disrupting, slamming people to the ground, stopping every attack they mounted almost single-handedly. Lou and I cheered them on as I hobbled up and down the sidelines, periodically reassuring Lou about graduate school.

With just a moment left in the match, we led by two and were slowly pushing them back, grinding them down for a final game-sealing score. But a jarring tackle by one of the South Africans left the ball bounding, rolling into space, scooped up by their green jerseyed man, and spun out to the black winger with no one near. A small man, but muscular, in two strides he was at full speed. He flew down the sidelines, perfect sprinter form, a cheetah, and at five strides we knew no one would catch him.

That was the game. There might be a minute left, but they would win. Lou and I watched in silence as one half a world away from home, where he was less than equal, his fourteen teammates celebrated his excellence.

yars — yet another rugby post

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11 Comments on “the unifying power of sport — yars”

  1. Clanmother says:

    Excellent post!!! I felt that I was at the game…

  2. russtowne says:

    And of winning!

    Thank you for sharing this story, Bill.

    Russ

  3. Did you end up with lots of bruises in those years?


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