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Rugby calls - even in Texas

USA | Tuesday, 26 May 2015 | Views [82] | Scholarship Entry

Making the drive south from Oklahoma to Dallas, I passed through such urban metropolises of Ardmore and Sanger before stopping for fuel in the seemingly dead-end town of Denton.
Pulling off I-35, H-shaped goalposts standing proud in the fall sun caught my eye. Rugby was the last thing I expected to encounter in North Texas. Welsh curiosity got the better of me and I headed off to investigate. A local couple informed me with no little enthusiasm about the game “Denton are playing Dallas today.” We got chatting.
When my Welsh heritage was revealed I became a focus of vital importance. I was swiftly introduced to everyone and anyone. “Do you play rugby?” “How long you here for?” “Are you coming to the pub?” The latter pricked my ears up.
I was taken back to the team’s HQ. Riprocks is a throwback American pub; a Gulf Oil sign hangs on the wall amongst a glut of neon beer signs and big screen TVs and a shrine to the rugby club sits inside the door. Rugby players are revered stateside for being tough (mad?) and playing a violent game without need for copious amounts of padding. Local college students chatted to me in awe of my participation in the sport!
I was handed two frosty mugs of brown beer. “Real Texans drink Shiner Bock. Neck one, drink the other” came the instructions. My glass wouldn’t be empty at any stage of the night.
Soon, huge plates of Buffalo wings appeared. The chili flavours torched my tongue and I’m sure the locals laughed in my general direction as I gulped Shiner to douse the oral inferno while they inhaled them without a spark of concern.
Rugby attracts ex-pats from everywhere. Every corner of the UK was represented as was Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Conversations revolved around rugby and past glories of each player and their National Teams. I was still a target for recruitment.
At closing time I was in no fit state to drive and one of the players took me home. Texan hospitality is like everything else in the Lone Star State – it knows no bounds!
Next morning, I thanked my host for putting up a complete stranger whose only common interest was rugby. He pointed me in the vague direction of my car. I wandered through the ornate trees and orange brick buildings of the University of North Texas campus. Squirrels scampered around enjoying the morning sun. Maybe Denton wasn’t so dead-end after all.
I found my car and continued my journey; fresh in the feeling that this chance stop could have such an enriching impression on me.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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