Pain Don’t Hurt

They’re discussing stupid playing-through-injury stories on Mike&Mike this morning– Golic talked about injuring his shoulder badly enough that he couldn’t lift his arm above shoulder level, and using a wall to push his hand up higher than that, so the trainer would let him go back in for the second half. Having separated both shoulders playing rugby (at different times), I know just how that feels. One of my senior-year games against amherst, I had to have my fellow second row lift my arm up for me a few times in the try zone, to loosen it up enough to keep going. (We lost the game, but not because of me…)

The very stupidest playing-while-injured thing I ever did was probably junior year at UMASS!!!, when I was playing on the B side with the most dysfunctional line in the history of rugby. Every time there was a ruck or a maul, there would be at least three different line calls made– from the stand-off, from the fullback, and from one of the wings. After about a half of this, the pack decided that we just weren’t going to give them the ball any more, unless we absolutely had no choice.

Part of this genius plan was to run the “Hoss Run” on every penalty play– of which there were many, UMASS!!! being a team well-stocked with clueless football rejects. This was before the rule change giving the line-out to the kicking team on a penalty, so our only hope to hang onto the ball was to, well, hang onto the ball. So the scrum-half would kick the ball through the mark, and then hand it to the biggest guy in the pack, which was me, and I would run straight ahead as far as I could. Then I’d hand it back to the second-biggest guy, who would make what headway he could, then hand it to the third-biggest guy, who would get driven back to where I was just getting back to my feet.

It was terrible, ugly, brutal rugby. It also got me kicked in the head repeatedly.

At one point in the second half, the ball went into touch, and we started to set up for a line-out. I lined up facing the center of the field, on the wrong side of the line-out. The referee stopped everyone, came up to me, and said “Son, are you all right?” I looked around, said “Ooh!” and moved around to the right spot.

He looked at my eyes, which I like to think were doing that cartoon pinwheel thing, and said “Son, do you know where you are?”

“I’m on a rugby pitch!” I replied.

“In what town?”

“…. Amherst?” I guessed.

The referee shrugged, and said “OK,” and we continued the game.

(That was a miserable, horrible ride home…)

So, I can understand where Golic is coming from. It’s still incredibly stupid, but I understand the mentality. I’ve tried to be better about stopping playing when I’ve done something to cause myself pain, but my first instinct is to keep playing, if I can possibly go on.