Through a mutual friend, we were connected with another couple from Edmonton who is also living here in Auckland. We met up with Jessie and Jarret Wall at a Movie in the Park.
Within seconds of meeting each other, Jessie made the connection that we were certainly not strangers. Jessie and I had in fact figure skated together in St. Albert back in the days of elementary school! Meeting up with an old acquaintance on the other side of the world certainly does make Earth feel like a small, small place.
Jessie and Jarret work with Athletes in Action over here, and Jarret invited Brendon out to play some rugby. The team Jarret is playing with is a semi-competitive league for men under 85kg, meaning that the risk of getting injured from a tackle by a large Maori man is slim to none in this league. Thinking it might be fun to throw a rugby ball around and get a feel for the game, Brendon accepted the invitation to come out to a rugby practice.
The practice was a definitely a lot more hard-core than anticipated. The head coach ran the players through a lengthy series of drills and exercises that began with some intense running. Crunches, pushups, and more crunches and pushups preceded some intricate throwing and catching drills.
From the perspective of a spectator, it was quite difficult to tell that Brendon was a rookie at the sport. His years of experience and training in football truly leant a helpful hand to make for a smooth transition into the foreign sport of rugby.
One of the last drills, and in my opinion, the most exciting one, was a tackling drill. Although Brendon was undoubtedly wiped of all energy by this time, he did a great job of taking down the blue bags with strength, skill and vigor.
Here’s Brendon to give us his perspective on the first rugby practice of his career:
My first rugby practice revealed 2 things: 1) I am not in shape by any measure 2) I don’t know anything about rugby. At this point, I am not entirely sure what kind of commitment I want to make as far as rugby goes, but I think it would be a pretty cool experience to play rugby a place where it is so huge. Rugby in New Zealand is like hockey is in Canada. So it would be a cool experience. When in Rome I suppose. I did talk to a guy today who was explaining to me that this semi-competitive league is still a good level of rugby usually guys who are too small to keep playing in the higher divisions play in the 85 kg leauge, so maybe I should just watch for a while till i get the hang of it. I guess the last thing I want is another head injury. So I guess I will keep you all posted on whether or not I get drafted by the all blacks!