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2 November 2007 @ 2pm

Rugby in November

November has started. There’s just 23 short days left until my birthday. And by birthday, I mean drinking good beer while watching Tech obliterate UVA in football.

This week has been a blur. I expect the rest of the month to be the same.

Monday brought a half day of classes, and the other half of work: I finished up new search mechanism in time for a meeting when I arrived on Wednesday. At rugby practice, we did positional drills: the tight five split off for scrum practice; the back line went for a run, practicing plays; the loose forwards (flankers and eight man) and scrum-half practiced scrum defensive and offensive situationals.

The right answer, when anyone asks, is “No, I haven’t played that before.” Learn from my mistake: the answer is not, “Yeah, I’ve done that once or twice in practice.” I volunteered to scrum-half for the evening, since we were short for the Division III team. Practice was terrible: I couldn’t get the ball out to the fly-half at a decent speed, with any accuracy, or when the back line was ready to move. By the time we left, I found myself sincerely wishing I never had to play scrum-half for the rest of my rugby career.

Tuesday brought a long day of classes, and a sincere wish during practice that the coaches remembered my terrible performance the day before. They remembered it, sure, but instead of thinking, “Wow, we should keep him at flanker, far away from the ball,” they thought, “He’s a quick learner: let’s work on that ground passing.” Not one to say no to an interesting opportunity to try a new position, I agreed to work on it again during practice. Unbeknownst to me, our regular scrum-half didn’t plan on playing this weekend, and so, I was also volunteering to learn the entire position, in three days, and to play it in the state tournament this Saturday.

Yes, that’s right: an inside center turned blindside flanker is now playing scrum-half.

Wednesday was another day of classes followed by work. Someone at work had made substantial changes to the database on Tuesday and removed several indices put in place for our queries: when I double-checked that my new search was performing properly, I was greeted by 100+ second wait times for result sets to return. Needless to say, we had to pre-load most of our pages for the presentation that afternoon.

Practice went much better, now that I had accepted the inevitable. I was able to concentrate on improving my form, and learned to observe the field and think ahead. For a flanker who’s used to reacting to the situation at hand, suddenly being handed full control of game flow on offense is a big change, and it took some rethinking of how I played to make it work.

This weekend, we travel to Richmond to play two matches against UVA. I’ll be playing scrum-half for the B‑side match. It promises to be good times.