Thursday, October 30, 2008

The sport of fine British gentlemen

After some consideration of playing a non-English sport I'd be more advantaged at (water polo, frisbee or American football) or trying something off the beaten path like mountaineering, caving, or orienteering, I decided to do the most British thing and try out for rugby. Perhaps football (soccer) would have been more English but I probably wouldn't have made the team.

Anyway, I've been playing Churchill rugby for a few weeks now. I'm something of a novelty to the other players, being the only grad student, the only non-drinker, the only non-Brit, and the only one who didn't grow up watching rugby all the time. Today was our second match, we lost 22-7 to the combined Peterhouse/Selwynn team which are among the stronger teams in the league. I started and played the entire game at wing and fullback, made a few try-saving tackles, and afterwards was named Man of the Match! The whole "man of the match" thing is a rough British version of "player of the game" although it seems to be a bigger part of sports here. The sports section will list for every football or rugby match the teams, score, and man of the match. Anyway it was a nice honor, especially since they've often stated that Americans are hopeless at the sport. Hopefully I'm more or less accepted into the club, which is good because I'm making some friends who are actually British and aren't grad students.

Of course the kicker is that the man of the match is in charge of washing "the kit" before the next match. Kit is another Britishism that's really hard to describe. I've heard people use it to mean clothes, equipment, or just "stuff," without many limitations.

And yes, we have probably the most hideous sports uniforms I have ever seen. We're not starting out with a hot hand thanks to the pink and brown college colors for Churchill, but it doesn't help that we inexplicably added burgundy to the jerseys, with a hot pink side panel. And the socks are a third shade of pink, plus brown, and inexplicable black. At least our coat of arms is nice.

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