Whether you’ve just moved and need a new club, or you’re completely new to rugby, it’s likely you’re about to go through these 11 stages of joining a new team…
1.Figuring out where the hell your nearest club is
This is quite possibly the most important decision you will ever make.. The club you choose will dictate much of how you spend your evenings and weekends over the next few years. Ideally you should seek out a club that is within walking distance of your home, at least that way you can stumble home after 20 pints on a Saturday night.
2.Contacting absolutely anyone at the club
Rugby club websites are notoriously out of date (if they even have one) so trying to find the contact details of absolutely anyone at the club is likely to be one of your biggest challenges. If you do eventually get a response via email/phone it’s likely to be passing you on to some other mug at the club. The safest option is to actually just go down yourself and ask around until you find the right person.
3.Trying to figure out which kit you actually need
It’s quite possibly been a little while since you last played rugby so you may need reminding of how much kit you actually don’t need to play in. In reality stick to a pair of boots and maybe a gum shield as well as a pair of shorts and socks. For gods sake though, don’t even think about wearing your old clubs kit or else you will likely find yourself holding the tackle bags for the rest of the season.
4.Deciding which team you belong in
Whatever you do don’t overestimate your own abilities and try and shoot for a team well above your own abilities. You’ll gain much more respect by starting in one of the lower teams and battling your way up to the first or second team. There’s no worse start you can make than being booted down a couple of teams after just one training session.
5.Gambling on which changing room you’re actually meant to be in
The first time you turn up at the club you likely won’t have a sodding clue which changing room is which. This can always be fun and games as you wander into the first teams changing room before being swiftly told where to go and making the trek down to the bottom end. If in doubt look for the oldest, fattest bloke and change wherever they go, at least then you can’t be accused of over estimating yourself.
6.Making it through the first training session
This is rugby so everyone’s going to be welcoming and try to get you involved. Have no doubt though, some of the vets are likely to be gunning for you to see what you’re made of so don’t be shocked to be on the receiving end of some pretty big hits. The other fun part of this is trying to remember the name of 30 odd players who’ve you’ve never met before in your life.
7.The first game
Possibly the most exciting part of joining a new team is playing your first game. Pulling on your new clubs jersey and running out (ideally at home). Don’t be expecting to necessarily start however, and be fully aware you’ll likely be s**t as a result of having no clue about calls and plays. Just put yourself about as much as possible and make sure you look as dirty as humanly possibly.
8.Surviving the initiation
After your first game it’s pretty likely you’ll be subjected to your clubs initiation ritual. This extend of this ritual will likely depend on how far up the pecking order you are playing. Be aware that your performance in the initiation will dictate your standing in the club for years. Don’t be afraid to fail (you’re not meant to pass) but you sure as hell need to make sure you give it everything you’ve got.
9.Avoiding the club treasurer
The longer you spend at the club, the more time you’ll spend ducking in and out of changing rooms to avoid the club treasurer as he comes round seeking subs. Eventually you should make sure to pay up as the club needs the money to survive, but don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun for the first few weeks ducking and diving out of changing rooms and toilets.
10.Going on tour
Come the end of season, it’s likely your club will be looking to go on tour, this is definitely an event that should not be missed. By now you should be fully initiated and be spending most of your free time down at the club, so this should be a great opportunity. Make sure to remember however that whatever happens on tour, stays on tour.
11.The second season
You can now breathe a sigh of relief, you’ve made it through your first season and are well on your way to retirement. It also means there’s likely to be a whole bunch of newbies joining during pre-season who you can put through the tried and tested initiation rituals. Don’t forget to make sure they feel welcome though, this is rugby after all.
What’s your experience of joining a new rugby team?