Everybody loves an underdog
by Rachel Gulden
Cheesy motivational posters were an ever-constant presence in my American upbringing. You know the ones…the posters slapped on the concrete walls of dentist offices and elementary schools of a kitten and a mouse cuddling or a Labrador wearing a superhero cape with quotes underneath like “Friendship knows no barriers” or “If you can dream it you can do it”.
Like the mystery people who come up with the names for nail polish colors and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors, I have no idea whose job it is to design those posters, but if it were mine I would have the perfect inspiration for my next design: the Hiroshima Wide Island Warriors touch rugby team.
Here we are, that motley crew, the Warriors.
We were really as under-prepared as they come. The other teams set up enormous tents to protect them from the 80 degree temps…we hung a kotatsu blanket between two cars. The other teams brought their own cheerleaders with pom poms and signs…we brought Daitsuke, the stuffed cow. The other teams kept their competitors at a distance…we befriended them.
What we thought was going to be a weekend at the Tokushima JET touch rugby tournament of casual games against pick-up rugby teams like ourselves turned out to be a weekend of all-too legitimate competition. …I mean the first game we played was against a group of 15 hulking, tattooed, retired professional rugby players. And there we were, barely enough players for a full team, only three with any real rugby experience, and most of us there more for the Saturday night BBQ than for the sport. Talk about your classic underdogs.
But despite being laughably in over our heads on the first day of the tournament, we managed to surprise both ourselves and the other 13 teams and finish with a winning record. I remained laughably in over my head, but the rest of the team was far more coordinated and they were able to work around me.
What we lacked in numbers and experience we made up for in endurance and flare. People seemed to like our self-depricating, good-natured attitudes and unintentionally creative strategy. Word spread about us, that team from Hiroshima who came to a two-day rugby tournament with only one sub (ha, what idiots) and had a stuffed cow sitting on the sideline as a mascot, and we developed quite a fan club over burgers and beers on Saturday night.
With blood, sweat, and some truly impressive playing by our MVPs Mark and Nik, we managed to go undefeated on Sunday and, like all storybook underdogs, ended the weekend being metaphorically carried away from the field on our competitor’s shoulders.
Check your dentist’s office walls on your next visit…maybe you’ll see the Wide Island Warriors hanging there.
Interested in joining? Never played touch rugby before but would like to try? The Tokushima touch rugby tournament takes place every year in May / June, and the Hiroshima Wide Island Warriors will be looking to take on some new players. They currently train in the Onomichi area during the week, please contact Captain Mark Morgan or Nikolai Mastrovich for details.