Monday, August 27, 2012

Kids and winter sports in New Zealand

Our family moved from Georgia in February - the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and arrived in New Zealand in March - the beginning of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. We didn't get a summer this year and are really missing the break and the sunshine. For some reason sports like rugby, netball, and soccer (known as football here) are played in the winter - not the spring or fall as we were used to in the states. A coach noticed Luke, age 14, due to his height and build, and he was asked to play on his age grade High school Rugby team - even though he had never played rugby before. Luke has grown up hearing about when his dad played rugby growing up in New Zealand - so Luke decided to give it a try!
Winter is generally the wettest season in New Zealand, and the ground is much softer when it's wet - meaning Luke came home muddy most Saturdays (something that he seemed to enjoy as much as the toasty warm bath which followed getting home). Luke played in the position of Lock, so was in the thick of the action for much of the time ... and spent plenty of time on the ground.
I had to do some research to learn about the different positions and Luke's role. Rugby players don't wear much protection other than mouth guards and some people wear soft helmets to minimize concussions or ear damage, so I was worried that he was going to get hurt. Fortunately none of his team were hurt, and thankfully Luke came through the season unscathed. However, one thing we were unprepared for was the authority that Luke showed when he picked up the ball and ran ... and he went on many rampaging runs throughout the season, and scored about four tries over the course of the season (a lot for a Lock).
We are also thankful Luke has taken this chance to make new friends and learn the game of Rugby. Burnside High had two Rugby teams and Luke's 'B' Team had a lot of players that had never played before - so they had a lot in common. All the games were tough, although the team improved immensely over the season. They preserved for two well earned wins, 2-3 close defeats in otherwise winnable games, and a few one-sided blowouts where the boys spent most of their time conceding points. We were proud of Luke trying so hard, from mid-week practices to the final game-day whistle, whether winning or losing. His dad thinks he was one of the top players in his team, and he played every minute of every game for the whole season.
Luke celebrating the win and the last game of the season! Luke said "playing Rugby was really fun and I feel a lot fitter!"

1 comment:

  1. The fact that 'he played every game for the whole season' says a lot aboaut Luke's character and determination. Great characteristics to carry through life. Pround of my grandson!