AFSOC Airman readies for rugby's wrath

  • Published
  • By Airman Elliott Sprehe
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The grass feels soft on your face as you lay there peacefully, until suddenly, someone's cleat-covered foot scrapes down your unprotected side, awakening you to the game in which you find yourself--that game is rugby, and it's no flag football game.

No stranger to the game, 2nd Lt. Daniel Griffin, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, will soon be on the Air Force team in the upcoming Armed Forces 2007 Rugby Tournament starting Oct. 19 at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"I've been playing about four and half years now. I first got into it when I went to the Air Force Academy," said Lieutenant Griffin. 

In the beginning, Lieutenant Griffin had no idea about the game.

"What's rugby?" asked then-cadet Griffin, a question that was soon answered when he played on the AF Academy's rugby team for the duration of his schooling. 

When he first started playing, Lieutenant Griffin said he used the skills he learned playing football and wrestling to help him get a grasp on rugby, something that would help him learn the basic fundamentals of the game.

"The players and coaches helped to transition me into understanding the rules of rugby," said the lieutenant. "It's like soccer with hockey rules involved."

Rugby has 13 or 15 players per team, depending on the rules. The center player during a scrum is called the hooker. A scrum is where teams push against each other for possession of the ball.

One of the biggest differences about playing rugby is the lack of any protective equipment or padding.

You can use a mouth guard, a skullcap, and a light shoulder pad to absorb some of the damage, but that's about it," said Lieutenant Griffin. 

"In football you can hear shoulder pads on shoulder pads and hear a loud plastic pop," said the Lieutenant. "In rugby I've heard a few of those where it's bone on bone.

"Freshman year I was playing a tournament and took a knee to the head and had a two and a half to three-inch incision on my head that got stitched up on the sideline."

After learning the ups and downs of the game over the years Lieutenant Griffin would come to find himself on the Air Force rugby team this year. The AF team is set to defend its title against the other services in the upcoming tournament.

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