by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
As Christmas and another Northern California rugby season nears, I am sharing with the loyal www.rugbyrugby.com readers my Christmas wish list. Although Santa Claus might not be able to deliver on every item of this list, I feel strongly that each belongs to be placed on this selective note sent to the North Pole.
At the top of my list is a wish for zero catastrophic injuries this upcoming season. Physically well-prepared players, who are coached technically sound, make this wish easier for Santa to deliver on. Immediately following this wish is one that asks for athletes to better understand the laws of the game, especially high school and college players. With so much information readily accessible, participants should have a better grasp of the laws at an earlier age.
My wish list asks for more competition within teams for first XV selection. Stiffer competition within clubs makes teams better, better teams make for better contests, and better contests make the game more appealing to the masses. More rugby clubs aren’t necessarily good for the growth of rugby if it dilutes the amount of competition for starting positions. Better competition will make us a better rugby nation.
Next on my correspondence to the North Pole is to ask for rugby to continue to be a sport that honors fair play, unselfishness, and integrity. As much as I love football, I am tired of the football players on zillion dollar contracts complaining about “not getting the ball” or having to travel in a necktie. I am so grateful that the most scrutinized rugby players in world rugby don’t offer up selfish behavior or ridiculous sound bites to the media.
Also on my wish list is for American rugby parents and fans to follow the long-standing tradition of applauding good play irrespective of the source, and remain silent during penalty and conversion attempts. These are traditions in our sport that I am asking Santa to help me preserve.
I am asking the white bearded one to encourage rugby players to play as hard as possible, while never crossing over the line into dangerous play. Every player will, at some time, be in a vulnerable position during the course of a match and it is my wish that, in these moments, we look after one another.
As my list draws to a close, I wish for Santa to bring every young rugby player the kit and equipment they ask for this Christmas. Rugby doesn’t require much equipment, but having proper rugby kit is important to our identity.
As I seal and post my Christmas wish list to Santa, I am also praying for all those service men and women in harms way. Keep them safe during the holiday season.
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand (Bay of Plenty), the U.S. (The Old Blues), England (London Harlequins), and Wales (Pontypridd) for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
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