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Sunday, November 4, 2007


I went down to the park today to look for a rugby game. I found one, and it was pretty good. Hawaii Harlequins vs. Barbarians. I played a few games for the Harlequins many years ago when I first moved to Hawaii.

Harlequins 19

(3 tries, 2 conversions)

Barbarians 34

(5 tries, 3 conversions, 1 penalty)

You get a bit spoiled watching the World Cup, that level of play is quite impressive to watch, but there's really nothing better than to stand on the sidelines at a local club or college game. Sure, they're not professional, world class standards, but it's much more real. You're right there. You keep thinking to yourself "I could be out there, I would have made that tackle, I would have broken through that gap." And, if you really want to, you could be out there next week. Up close and personal adds a dimension to the game that you'll never get in a stadium or through TV. When I go to a dance concert I like to sit right up front. It makes it more real when you can see them sweat, see the little imperfections that you'd never see from the balcony.

That's another way to market rugby at the local level. Let the uninitiated in at the ground level. Let them experience the sights and sounds and smells that they'll never get at any other sport. The more personal the connection, the more fans you'll attract, and the bigger foundation you'll build.

So the game was a little sloppy, but fun to watch. The Barbarians had an impressive back line. They had several players with wheels, and moves to match. And they couldn't just run in the open, they were just as impressive, if not more so, in the rough. They didn't fall over at the first hit, not at all. The thing that impressed me most was from two players.

The Focus.

It was inspiring to watch. I wish I could play like that. Most of the players did what a lot of players at this level do. See a tackle coming and throw the ball away. I don't mean pass when you should pass, but just plain throw the ball away. Lot's of that out there today. There was a lot of good play too, looking for support, take the hit then ruck or maul, the regular stuff. But these two guys had this focus that you could not only see, but you could feel it from across the field.

The one guy looked so relaxed when he ran, like he was just walking through a crowd at the mall, but he was fixed on the try line, and on the opposition in front of him. He looked like he was just calmly reading a map, then picking his space (no matter how zig zaggy it might be), finding a target, and flipping a switch that sent him there. Several times he took a hit that would have rattled my thought process, but that focus didn't waver a bit. He just kept on. Not to say that he didn't pass when he should or didn't know where his support was, but he had that target in sight and wasn't going to let anything prevent him from getting it. The other guy had that same focus, just a little bit different style. He was pretty small, but his presence was huge when he had the ball, or an opponent to tackle. That focus. I guess I wasn't paying as much attention as I should, but I think he was the winger and the other guy was outside center. Because this guy was usually near the touch line, but he knew where he was and it was all the time. You could see when he got the ball outside that he was headed for that gap right down the sideline, it was like a laser focused right down that slot all the way to the try line. Amazing. He too had that focus where a tackle seemed more an annoyance than a hit.

That focus.

If we all had that in everything we do, just imagine what you could accomplish.

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