The UCD Smurfit Rugby Football Club has grown into one of the most successful business school rugby football clubs in the world. It has won the national championship title 9 times since 2000 and is the current reigning champ. Spring semester classes were in full swing with plenty of readings and assignments, yet I found myself attending the first rugby practice of the year. How did I end up there having never played, trying to make a championship team you might ask? I blame the MBA for convincing me too well that I am a capable, equipped leader who basks in the unknown! The goal is to make the team and participate in the 2012 World Rugby Tournament in Durham, NC from April 13-15 2012. Read my humble beginnings on this journey below.
“Where did rugby come from?” Our rugby Coach barked the question directly to me as the team huddled together after our first drill. As an American having never played rugby before I had no clue, so I quickly responded “the Irish”- but this unfortunately proved to be incorrect. I soon learned from our rugby Coach the correct answer, “It all started with William Webb Ellis who picked up the ball and ran with it in 1823 as a student at Rugby School of Warwickshire, England…” I shifted my running shoes in the wet grass as he continued the story while I frantically tried to memorize the facts for any future pop quizzes.
On the dimly lit field during this cold night of practice, my new found MBA confidence was certainly getting a healthy challenge. Starting with being the only guy not wearing cleats, then struggling to put on the practice jersey only to discover that it was actually torn all contributed to the initial experience.
For approximately an hour and a half I ran, caught, passed, and slipped my way through my first rugby practice like a deer in headlights. What I lacked in natural skills during practice, I tried to make up with social skills by asking each player to make an official introduction to the team. I started with “I’m Justin and you may not believe it but I am new to this sport.” This managed to get some good laughs and end the practice on a positive note. This would begin the dream.
I am currently raising support along with my UCD classmates to raise enough financial support to travel abroad and represent the college in the MBA World tournament in April. You may view my website at rugbyjustin.snappages.com and the official team website at www.smurfitrugby.ie. I welcome your encouragements! If you can’t support us financially please support us online by Tweeting #justinsrugydream as we seek to make a lasting legacy for the 2012 UCD Smurfit Rugby team!
Rugby Player in-Training,
– Justin Thomas, Full-time MBA 2011/12