I guess you could call me a Sports chameleon. I find it very easy to just slip into a sport and get caught up. For years I was in a very football dominated household, and although I enjoyed those many evenings, I never really felt involved. I could talk about how well individual players were playing but ask me where the teams were in the table, and you would find a blank stare.
I was the same for any sport though, not just football. I would avidly watch the Six Nations but couldn’t name a rugby union club if you paid me!
So when I first got together with my boyfriend, a loyal lifetime Rugby League supporter, I again happily sat down and watched with him. I already understood some of the basics having seen some Union before but had to do a bit of googling to get some of the finer points. As my familiarity with the sport and the players grew I found myself looking forward to games, rather than liking them when they were on
Around 4 months into our relationship my partner took me to a match (Leeds Rhinos vs Melbourne Storm). It was this point that I think things began to change for me. I had never enjoyed watching a sport as much as I did that night. Its cliché but from then I was hooked.
|The programme from my first Rugby League game.|
Fast-forward another two years or so and I can safely say I’ve achieved full indoctrination. I love watching the games, live or televised. I’ve lost count of the number of games I’ve been to, I’ve attended not one but TWO impressive Challenge Cup finals down in Wembley. Rugby League has truly become a part of me.
Rugby League had converted me from an ignorant neutral to true believer in less than three years.
When I think back to those first few games, I can only be amazed I didn’t fall in love sooner.
I mean, in every game there is action. A nil game is a rare and wondrous occasion. The speed in which the ball is played means that there is always opportunity for brilliance and destruction.
The athleticism of the players is unrivalled; the tries scored use every fibre of strength and ingenuity a player has to offer and are frankly spectacular.
The Six tackle rule means that play is constant and rarely stalls. Teams must plan for that sixth tackle which frequently produces try situations.
Finally, although I could name more amazing attributes, the thing that drew me in was the supporters. The Rugby League community is by far one of the most inclusive.
When Danny Jones, a Keighley Cougars player, passed away in May 2015, the community rose to the aid of his widow, Lizzie Jones, and their twin babies. Since then, nearly £250,000 has been raised to support his family.
Keegan Hirst, captain of Batley Bulldogs came out as the first openly gay Rugby League player, he was shown overwhelming support from the fans for his courageous decision.
I personally cannot imagine responses such as these happening in any other sport but Rugby League.
I, for one, am very proud to call myself a fellow fan.
P.s. to donate to the Danny Jones fund head to à https://www.justgiving.com/dannyjones29
To read about Keegan Hirst’s amazing story head to à http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33957207