Rugby. If you know how to play it in America, it would follow that you could play it in Japan. The rules are all the same, the winger is still the winger, and your goal is still to get the ball over their try line, and keep them from getting it over yours. This past year the college club team I play with came together so well, I began to mistakenly believe that I was finally getting the hang of it. Now I have it, I thought. Finally, I understood the field, and where I should be. Sometimes I could read the defense, and my teammates and I were more in tune than ever.
Then I came to Japan, and started coming to practices with the Nagoya Ladies RFC. Everyone is extremely kind and welcoming. If there were any single reason for learning Japanese, being able to laugh and speak with them would be it. Many of the women I've met are on the National team, but in the first couple practices we did things that I was familiar with: fitness, 3 on 2, and passing drills. I haven't been very active since the end of our rugby season in late November, but thanks to my few semesters of experience at university, I was managing to keep up (as best I can!). But the last couple of practices, the team has been gearing up for the Sevens Tournament here in late March, and I've realized that a bit of experience isn't what's going to cut it when I practice with the Ladies.
Rugby is as much about communication as it is about strength, skill, speed, or agility. For me, there's still a delay between the words reaching my ears and my understanding them; in the time between, I'm translating. I hear ｢ボール見て！タナ、上がって！」 and it takes me a moment to understand what people are saying to me. Playing with the Nagoya Ladies I feel the same sense of confusion that I did when I first started learning to play rugby, and in the midst of it yesterday I realized what made me so much more tuned into the game back at home.
Basically, communication. My improvement came with an improvement in our team communication, and now that I`m in a situation in which I can`t properly communicate, running drills is suddenly treacherous territory again. Where should I be? How do I let them know when I can take the ball, and when they should run with it? I`m learning the lingo little by little, and it`s all great fun, but it emphasizes how important it is that I learn to speak concisely. I`m finding even more gaps in my vocabulary, which is never fun, but it`s good to know that even when I`m playing rugby I`ll be studying.
The Nagoya Ladies are going to be playing Rugby Sevens at Mizuho in Nagoya on the 21st of March. If you have an interest in rugby, there will be teams from all over there; if you`re in Nagoya, it will be fun to watch. Either way, you should come and see, at least when the Ladies are playing!