cooperation

You’d be surprised how much you can learn from a young woman guzzling beer from a muddy cleat. . . .

 

From the start, the post-game rugby social was remarkable. Co-eds filtered into a downtown bar carrying homemade dishes of pasta, beans, pulled pork and macaroni salad, creating a buffet that covered two pool tables. Hungry athletes and guests casually formed a line and chatted as they patiently waited for food.

 

The scene didn’t contradict the hard-playing, hard-partying image of rugby. Rather, it rendered the stereotype disingenuous. What I saw was a powerful set of shared values that can benefit us all:

 

Humor

Inextricably linked to energy, humor yields results—stuff gets done and people feel good. From songs, to games, to group announcements, humor kept everyone entertained and engaged.

 

Respect

Even in a crowded bar steaming with adrenaline and alcohol, respect prevailed. Requesting attention by raising party cup to forehead, or singing “me, me, me, meeeee” (to which others replied, “you, you, you, youuuuuu”), anyone who wanted the group’s attention could get it.

 

Equality

With women and men equally represented as both athletes and guests, gender (and other differentiators) seemed invisible. A rugby-guys-versus-rugby-gals game of “flip cup” quickly integrated because it was easier and didn’t seem to matter anyway.

 

Cooperation

All teammates contributed time and/or treasure to create an environment with enough food and drink for all. When the beer ran out, someone stepped forward to initiate a collection effort that quickly yielded enough contributions to tap another keg. When someone started a silly song, members took turns improvising verses. And when ideas ran out, a new tune was introduced.

 

I’m a latecomer to rugby, too breakable now to subject myself to the sport. But I may just pursue groupie status. Because this is the kind of team I want to be part of.