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Grit: Badfellows rugby at Goodfellow

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- As military professionals, we often find ourselves in any given corner of the globe. Sometimes we find that the hobbies we develop in one location cannot be readily found at our new location. That's not true of rugby. It's a sport played worldwide in one form or another. There are leagues and unions ranging from local clubs to professional organizations in countries on every continent.

"It's the largest fraternity and sorority in the world," said Staff Sgt. Cameron Pollet. "Wherever you go you can find a team."

Fitness, professionalism, camaraderie, and transferability are among the benefits of developing rugby as a hobby. That seems to fit perfectly into a healthy military lifestyle.

"There's no feeling like the one you get when you first step out on the pitch. The sense of camaraderie and accomplishment is an experience like no other," said Staff Sgt. Pollet, the point of contact for the Goodfellow Badfellows, the base intramural rugby team.

As the true-grit, hard-nosed older brother of football, rugby is an elegant sport of orchestrated violence. Those familiar with the sport of football, as many in Texas are known to be, will recognize striking similarities between the two sports. The ball resembles a more rounded version of a football. A group of massive men known as forwards use their mighty size to help their smaller, more agile teammates known as backs move the ball up the pitch by sacrificing themselves so that the backs can put points on the board.

There are some differences and similarities in terminology that those unfamiliar with rugby may find confusing. The field, for example, is referred to as the pitch. Instead of using two separate groups of people for offensive and defensive lines like football, rugby uses the same group of people for both for the entire game. Rather than calling them linemen, they are referred to as forwards. Similarly, the same backs are used for offensive and defensive roles for the duration of the game.

So the terminology is different, the position titles are different, players are in for the entire game playing defense and offense. You might be asking yourself, "What's the real difference?" There are no pads. This is a full contact sport at break neck speed that runs for two 40 minute halves and the only things between you, the guy tackling you, and the ground are the clothes on your backs, the ball, and turf below.

The next question you might ask yourself might be something like, "Why would I want to subject myself to such unfettered violence?" The answer is the professionalism, respect, and sense of camaraderie that are ever-present on the pitch. Since no pads are used a strict adherence to the rules is necessary keeps players safe on the field. The game itself is half of the experience, the other half is the social experience that happens on and off the field.

The team is currently at full strength but looking to expand. Since many of the players are students and only here for a short time, the Badfellows are constantly looking for new additions to the team. Additionally, they are considering starting a second team if there is enough interest. They are looking for people of all ages, levels of fitness, and sizes. Sgt. Pollet said the only thing people who want to play need to bring is a "mouthpiece, cleats (referred to as boots), and the desire to play".

For more information on the basics of rugby, aim your web browser at http://www.rugbytactics.com or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_union_positions.

For questions regarding the Goodfellow Badfellows or joining the base intramural team, email Staff Sgt. Pollet at badfellowsrugby@yahoo.com. If you don't want to email, walk-ons are accepted. The team practices every Saturday on the base football field from noon to 3 p.m. unless there is a game and Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. if work schedules permit.