Rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the U.S. with the game becoming more and more common at the youth and high school level while it has strong roots in the collegiate and post collegiate levels. With this growth more and more athletes playing other sports are being approached to play rugby.

But before pulling on your cleats and joining the scrum, these are 5 things all new rugby players should know…before they start playing.

5 – Rugby Teams Need Players of All Sizes: Don’t worry if you are not big!  With similarities to American football some players think they have to be big to play rugby but nothing could be further from the truth.  The game requires players of all sizes and technical abilities.  True, the front row players are usually bigger (similar to linemen in football) but the backs and wings are usually smaller with good speed and cutting ability (sometimes former soccer players) and the lineout ‘jumpers,’ usually the team locks need to be taller with good hand coordination (sometimes former basketball players).  And since rugby players play both offense and defense great stamina is required regardless of the player’s size.

4 – Injuries are Part of the Game: Rugby is a physical game and injuries are an unavoidable part of the game. Don’t go into the game (especially as a new back who sometimes naively think they can pass the ball before taking a big blow), thinking you can avoid injuries.  While major injuries occur they are not as common as many new players think.  But the constant toll on the body from taking hits from players and when going to ground add up with bruises, twisted ankles, the occasional broken collarbone letting you know you just finished a game.  Don’t expect to leave the rugby field after a competitive game without some ‘nicks and bruises’ letting you know you just played 80 minutes.

3 – It’s a Big Commitment: Rugby is a big commitment if you plan to give 100% to the team.  2-3 practices per week are common and with many cities only having 1 or maybe 2 teams road trips are frequently required for matches.  And the commitment for most club teams extends beyond the game.  Players usually have to help line fields, raise funds, organize socials, etc.  And don’t forget that a couple of players are usually the backbone holding the club together by recruiting players, buying the team jersey, dealing with school administrators, etc.

2 – More than Just a Scrum: The scrum is one feature of the game that almost everyone, even the casual fan, is familiar with in rugby.  But the scrum is only a small part of the game with rucks, mauls, lineouts, knock-ons, tackling techniques (much different than tackling in American football), in addition to the long list of team tactics used in the modern game. And of course each player has a vital role in each of these aspects of the game and of course has to be well versed on offense and defense.

1 – Team and Rugby Comradery: Rugby takes team comradery to a new level.  Once you join a team you are part of the team and all that brings with it from congratulating you after a big play to urging you on after a bad play.  The physical nature of the sport helps to bond players together in their unified goal.  These bonds hold strong on and off the field.

The passion runs deep even after players ‘hang up their boots’ with some making the occasional outing for an ‘old boys game’ or just going out to watch the team play.   It is common for a new player at most clubs in the U.S. to be able to find one of the original players from that team who is still coming out to support the club.

And the passion is global.  Travel anywhere in the world and you have a common bond with other rugby players.  The values of the game and the congenial nature of it make it a really unique and wonderful community.

This comradery is the real magic of rugby and it begins the day you step on the field and never ends.