For those who know me intimately know I play rugby and have been so since I was 17. Next year will be my sixth consecutive year playing for Sydney University Women’s Rugby Club. I am so proud of the club I’ve grown up in and have the opportunity to represent every time I lace my boots on.
2017 season has been so different to the other years. I can’t put my finger on where my perspective on grassroot rugby shifted but I found myself itching to get onto campus to be around my club whenever I could. Every conditioning session regardless of how hard it was, was rewarding because I knew I would be with my mates. 5:20am alarms were less daunting because I knew I was apart of something much bigger than myself. 2 sessions in one day (before and after work) wasn’t a questionable option because I had the tangible opportunity of playing alongside some of the finest sportswomen this country has to offer.
Up until this year SUWR were back to back Jack Scott Cup Premiers. On both occasions I had the privilege to don the number 5 jersey. I have a special connection to 5 as both my older brothers (who I absolutely adore) Wesley and Kevin played in this number throughout their respective rugby league careers. This year however, I missed out.
Rewind to semi-finals against Campbelltown Harlequins…
This whole year the team I were building towards finals. Week in and week out we knew we were putting in the work and surely it wouldn’t be in vain. We managed to rack up 456 points over 14 games and had only 36 points scored against us. Fair to say it was an incredible effort. I was so nervous the day we had semis. I kinda was out for a little too long the night before but felt I was rested well enough and hydrated. Some may beg to differ. Through warm up I couldn’t shake the nervous energy, even in the change rooms before we got told to come out I had my eyes closed saying a silent prayer asking for an injury free 80 minutes.
I remember running out of the tunnel being clapped on by our first grade boys and looking out into the crowd I could spot my sister Rhonda and her husband Jia. They hadn’t watched me before. I knew I had to play a hearty game not only because my family were present but the girls beside me deserved it. They say the first 10 minutes are the hardest which is true. It is a combination of adrenaline, passion and tikka. We got a penalty and decided to run the ball as we were about 10m out from our try line.
Iliseva Batibsaga (pictured above and daughter of legendary Fijian half back Isimeli Batibasaga) tipped the ball to me and as I ran trying to find a gap I got tackled from the side and heard a snap in my left knee. I’ve been injured before so I knew whatever just happened wasn’t good. I got up and in my attempt to take another step I immediately fell back to the ground. It was only 15 minutes into the game. Devastated is an absolute understatement of what I felt internally.
All I could think of whilst I sat on the sideline feeling sorry for myself was the incredible season I had up until that point and the possibility of missing out on the grand final. Could it be I didn’t prepare well enough? Did I take the opposition for granted? Regardless of the questions that filled my mind the cards just weren’t dealt in my favor.
The painful truth…
I did all I could do to get the swelling and pain out but it wasn’t enough. The MRI scans, sports doctor consultations, excessive use of the ice machine and anti-flams complimented with copious amount of tears was what my life consisted of for 5 days. My results were returned and it showed I had chipped a significant piece of cartilage. I blew my ACL 4 years ago and never got surgery done so I was basically zeroing out the little stability I had. I was very stubborn and insisted I still play. By this point I am sure my doctor was fed up of me and in a very blasé tone asked “Do you want to play rugby again? If you do get your knee fixed now otherwise forget about it”.
For my own sanity I only confided in two people throughout that week. Kevin and my coach Stevie.
As the week continued I had to make a decision whether I was fit to play or not. Deep within I knew I was in denial because I was still in so much pain until Kevin challenged me with this thought –
“If you played on Saturday are you playing with 100% confidence you can get the job done or will you play at 50% because you’re too selfish to give up your jersey?”.
Well the truth was the latter. I didn’t want to share what I thought belonged to me. The next morning I sat down with Stevie and ruled myself out from grand final. We had our last captains run and as much as it pained me to not be apart of the biggest game of the year, I was content. Saturday came around, we fielded our best team and lost by 2 points. As one could imagine because we hadn’t lost a game all season and up until that point were the reigning champs, the loss cut deep. Real deep.
So the tattoo…
I drank and to be honest, drank myself sick (late apology to anyone who had to deal with my sorry ass). The next day at a cheeky Sunday session where I was still heavily intoxicated I suggested we go and get tattoos because regardless of the outcome, I was and still am the proudest lass you’ll find at our club. One hour later we are giggling to ourselves in a tattoo parlor in Kings Cross.
People ridiculed us for the stunt because we lost and rightfully so although until you play a game like rugby where you psychically put your body on the line week in and week out, you’ll never really understand the bond we have. The ink on my ribs symbolize the pride I am apart of. Fierce, strong and courageous women who have fought for me and with me. We’ll worry about next season when it arrives and in true lioness behavior we will pounce back. Mark my words.
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Blessings and love,
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