Could I learn to play rugby at age 35?

Could I learn to play rugby at age 35? Aug, 3 2023

My Journey Begins: Embracing Rugby at 35

I'm absolutely delighted to share my experience of waking up one fine day and deciding to indulge in a sport many half my age are reluctant to. Yes, this right here is the story of how I learned to play rugby at age 35.

Before I carry on, I should probably set things straight. “Alden,” you might be thinking, “why on earth would you dream of playing such a brutal sport at an age most people retire from it?” And therein lies the crux of this journey. The gnawing curiosity of asking, “Could I learn to play rugby at age 35?”, and to my surprise, the answer blossomed into a resounding yes.

Many have this notion that rugby is a young man’s sport, and trust me, I was one of those people. Rugby was a sport I admired from afar, enjoyed on my television with a cup of hot cocoa. But to play the game? At my age? That seemed preposterous…until, one day, it didn’t.

The Challenge Ahead: Understanding The Game

Before you can play a game, you need to understand it, right? Sounds easy enough, but I soon discovered that understanding rugby is like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded. The peculiar names for different positions and passages of play first had me in a dizzying spell. I was a fish out of water trying figure out the difference between a 'scrum' and a 'ruck.'

With time, however, I did grasp the basic rules and terminologies. It is one thing to understand how a 'try' is scored; it's another to actually do it on a pitch surrounded by competitive players. But hey, if yours truly could do it, trust me, anyone can.

Rugby is no walk in the park, it's more like a full-fledged sprint across an unpaved mountain. But the beauty of the sport lies in the fact that it doesn't discriminate. Regardless of your age, size, or skill level, there's a place for you in rugby.

The Ups and Downs: Preparation and Training

The first hurdle I encountered was as physical as it was mental. Rugby demands a combination of power, speed, and stamina. And well, let’s just say that my comfy leather couch did little over the years to prepare me for the intensity of this knee-crushing, lung-busting sport.

Despite the odds, I wasn't going to give up. I consulted a personal trainer who, upon hearing my ambitious quest to become a rugby player, first laughed and then commended me on my spirit. Ensuing physical training regimes felt like a Herculean struggle, but over time, I began to endure and even relish these sessions, with every drop of sweat marking my progress.

Not only did I have to focus on my physical strength, but I also had to learn the art of handling the ball - a daunting task on its own. My first attempts at tossing that misshaped egg were far from successful, but repetition is king in mastering any physical skill. My resolve? You could have carved diamonds on it.

Works and Crafts: Game Dynamics and Teamwork

As someone who has never indulged in team sports, understanding game dynamics and teamwork was a skill that I had to learn. Playing rugby is more than chasing and passing a ball; it's about working together as a unit and relying on each other.

Aligning everyone to think and move in unison was a challenge. But every time we moved as one cohesive unit, the satisfaction was beyond words. I quickly realized the magic of the sport—it doesn’t function on individual glory but collective unity. And this camaraderie is what makes rugby such an irresistible sport.

I was progressively stunned to see rugby's lesser-known side; it's not just hulking men smashing into each other—it's about respect, camaraderie, and teamwork. And these values surged through my veins, every time I walked onto that field, every time I laced up my cleats, every time I held that strange-shaped ball in my hands.

Bite The Bullet: My First Rugby Match

Remember how it feels to take your first step into an amusement park ride that you are terrified of but have spent hours in line for? That's the best way to describe stepping onto the field for my first rugby match.

My heart was pounding, the adrenaline rush was indescribable, and the uncertainty was consuming. I was scared, excited, and curious all at the same time. Despite various thoughts swirling in my mind, I was ready to take on the challenge.

The game was painstakingly slow and light-speed fast all at once. I was knocked down, I lost the ball many times, I missed opportunities, but every moment was part of a unique thrill. With each knockdown, I learned to get back up a little quicker, with every lost ball, I learned to grip a little stronger. While we didn’t win the match, I won something far more important—proof that I, Alden, had actually learned to play rugby, and not just at any age, but at age 35.

So was it possible to learn to play rugby at age 35? Absolutely! Yes, it was challenging, terrifying yet exhilarating, painful yet rewarding, and above all, worth every drop of sweat and effort. It offered me something no leather couch ever could—an adrenaline rush, a feeling of invincibility, and a die-hard spirit that resonates in every aspect of my life.

To anyone grappling with the question of learning something new at any age, my answer to you is, Yes! Go for it. Don't let age define your ambitions or your ability to learn. After all, age is just a number, but the experiences, the learning, and the enjoyment that comes with trying something new, are priceless.