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Meeting people in a new city is always a bit of a challenge. This is why I’m trying a new strategy. I will continue going to meetup.com events around Edinburgh, but I’ll also be getting back into team sports.

I was playing hockey in Vancouver, but it was a more casual kind of game compared to the competitive hockey I played as a teenager. Unfortunately hockey is not really as viable an option in Edinburgh. There are two main problems: very few ice rinks for one and the fact that most people here think hockey is played on grass with thick, short wooden sticks; not much of a following. Bringing hockey equipment with me didn’t make much sense considering points one and two, but that would probably be point number three. As much as I’ll miss hockey (until the semi-pro team in Murrayfield starts up again), it is a good time to move on and experience something new.

Saturday was my first real experience at Rugby. I asked around and found a guy who works with a team in Leith and they let me come out to one of their training sessions. I had only a vague understanding of the rules at first and spent most of the day horribly out of position, but by the end I was really starting to get the hang of it.

As you can imagine, it was an incredible cardio workout. By the end of the practice, I was gasping pretty heavily. I hadn’t had very much to eat that morning, which was definitely a mistake because I felt pretty spent by the end… almost sick.

I was feeling a little worse for wear the next day too. Plenty of muscle aches and banged up more than a little. It was great.

I was actually planning on playing baseball the next day, but decided to put it off to recover. I’ll try doing that next weekend instead. I didn’t know how much I missed playing sports.

I took a few hits but there wasn’t too much contact. I think they were taking it a little easy on me on some things, but on others it was a trial by fire. With a little more practice, I think I could be playing competitive games by the end of the year. Positioning and teamwork are very important in the sport; Saturday was a great introduction because even though I spent most of the day out of position, I was getting more of a handle on the lines as the day went on. Defensively you have to keep a straight line with your teammates and offensively you have to keep a staggered line behind the ball (because you can only pass backwards). Its like hockey in that being able to move without the ball and join the play with speed is the key to scoring. I’ll probably play the front end because I’m stronger than I am fast, so Ill have to work on keeping low and keeping my feet moving after contact to push the opposition’s line back. Also getting the ball to settle behind me after I place it. I’m starting to realize how much contact there is in Rugby. You not only have to take the hit for the team as a last resort to make key play (like good hockey players), but sometimes running into the hit is the recommended course.

I’m planning on heading back on Thursday for another session.

I need to get myself a mouth guard and boots (cleats) pretty soon if I plan to keep this up. And keeping it up is what I want to do. I’ve only been out once but I think I’m close to getting hooked.

The coach said they had a guy on the team last year who at the start of the season hadn’t played a single game but at the end he was playing in matches and even scored a couple trys. That proves it can be done. He also said they get a few exhibition games and I might get a chance to play in some of those eventually. Speaking of exhibition, they even did a tour a couple years ago playing teams on Vancouver Island. Not really a surprise, but I guess its odd that I never learned how to play while I was in Canada.