Colbert: Figuring out this rugby thing by playing with the Gents of Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Colbert: Figuring out this rugby thing by playing with the Gents of Aspen

The Gentlemen of Aspen play in a rugby match last summer.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

That chicken with its head cut off feeling? I get it now, assuming said chicken also was a recently concussed, mildly asthmatic Kansan who prior to moving to Colorado three years ago couldn’t have told you the difference between a lacrosse and rugby ball (I jest, but you get the point).

Saying this, I’d like to point out that I did in fact survive my first practice Tuesday with the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club. Sure, the two-hour practice was strictly touch, but that was the most I’ve run since … well, an embarrassingly long time ago.

So why was I practicing with the Gents? Because playing rugby for the first time in one’s life right after a first concussion is about the smartest thing one can do. OK, it’s probably quite idiotic, but I’ve had this idea of playing rugby with the boys for a while now and figured this is as good a time as any.

My end game is to do the one thing I’m actually somewhat decent at, and that’s to write a story about it. A few months from now, I hope to give you, the readers, the ultimate insight into what it means to be a Gent here in Aspen. Between now and then, I fully expect to be physically torn down to my foundation. It will be enlightening, and probably a little painful.

An honest assessment of my physical being? I’ve got the speed of a racehorse — as long as the racehorse has about three sumo wrestlers on its back — and the sheer brutality of a sleeping teddy bear. In short, I shouldn’t be anywhere near a rugby pitch.

Still, Aspen rugby coaches Will Herborn and Cam McIntyre were incredibly positive about me after Tuesday’s practice, and were nice enough to not admit out loud that I will never play in an actual game since their goal is to win, something I cannot help with.

But you know what? I’m OK with this. I enjoyed all of Tuesday’s practice and learned more about rugby in two hours than I had my entire life previously. It’s an incredibly fun and addicting game and the girls seem to like the rugby players, so I have nothing to lose, right?

I’m sure once we start actually hitting each other — i.e., real rugby — I’m not going to be as affectionate toward the sport. But for now, I do in fact look forward to getting back out there with the boys and continuing to learn what is in fact a beautiful and graceful game.

If you’ve never seen rugby in person, the Gents will host their first home game of the summer season on June 16. There’s no way in hell I’ll be game-ready by then, but I’m hoping I’ll have a nice bruise or two to show you. After all, if you aren’t bruised or otherwise broken, did you really even play?

acolbert@aspentimes.com


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