So, you graduated college and are stepping into the real world. Trying to find that first salaried job, moved back home and going a little crazy, ready for a crazy summer, and starting to realize that you won't be living down the block or hallway from your closest friends. What's more besides not having $2 pitchers of beer and residence hall cheese bread, you have left behind your rugby team. When you don't have a team, you can feel like a man with out a country.
So where should you play? Which club is right for you? It can be hard to find the team that you fit into. If you were a power played on your college club team, you may not be when you step onto a Senior Club's pitch. You need to find the club that feels right, share you ideas on the game, whether you're in it for the social side, the love of just playing, or because you like to ruck some people up on the pitch. Depending on the job you get, or will continue searching for who knows how long, you need to consider the daily or weekly time commitment, travel, dues, fundraising etc.
Being a rookie again can be a nerve racking thing. Picking the closest club, or one a friend plays for may not end up being "the one" for you either. When I first moved back to Chicago after many years in Macomb, I wasn't sure where, or with who I wanted to play. I took time to look at clubs, sent our e-mails to see who responded, and had an idea of what I wanted from my club. I didn't wait until 15s season either, i started my search during 7s, so that if I didn't like the club, I could kind of just dip out. There were stereotypes for the women's teams, just like there are for the men's. I had seen a few of the teams at tournaments in the spring and remember being so intimidated by them as they would walk by us. I knew I wanted a team close to home, or easy to get to.
The first club I went out to play with was an extremely nice group of girls. I went to summer 7s practices, I brought another friend with me a few times, and we both knew that they were not at the level we wanted to play at. The summer before I had been to 7s with another team and liked the way they ran their club and practices. They were a bit more serious. I was still undecided about where I wanted to play in the fall, but at a 7s tournament, two women from another team came up to me and said, we like the way you play, and we think you would be a good fit for our club. So in the fall, I joined that club and loved everything about them. The way they traveled in themes, how serious they took practice, that a group of us traveled to have extra practices with a men's club, and that they competed hard.
I was not a starter my first fall season, which was an adjustment. They already had their props, and challenged me to try tight and loose head, as well as putting me in as a lock. My one friend who came out to 7s with me and thought the one team was not organized enough, also felt that the club I joined was "team serious" and not for her. Just because she didn't find the right club, didn't have to mean for me that I didn't. Learning to adjust to a new team, new traditions, and new level of play is probably the best, most exciting, and at times intimidating part of playing on the Senior Club level.
My advice to you graduates, is to take the time to try out a few teams over the summer or into the fall. Don't just base it on who is the quickest commute. It's ok to be nervous. There may be people on your club who you hated in college because of how they played, but now that they are on your team, you'll find a new respect for them (and maybe even a new friend). I know my first time in a game, with a D1 Women's Club I was so nervous. The players were HUGE compared to the majority of people I have played against before. They hit harder, they were fast paced, organized. Coming from a self-coached college team, having a knowledgeable coach, someone who worked with the pack, and the backs, separately, organizing what are first three move from the kick off would be, was a new concept for me.
So, beside driving all over and going to a ton of different practices being a pitch hopper, I have taken the time to not just look at the websites, but speak with the clubs to give you a more full profile and feel of the clubs in Chicago! I will be featuring a different club with each post in this series.
Remember to subscribe to so you can get each club profile and like Packie Place on Facebook! Both links on the side of this article!