What Rugby Taught Me About Being a Father

When you have a baby, the world starts to spin. All of your life suddenly becomes centered around this one person who has taken up all of your time and attention. You start to take on new responsibilities that teach you what it means to be a father in ways you never could’ve imagined before.

Rugby is a sport that requires a lot of stamina and focus. It taught me to be patient, as well as how to play rugby.

Players running in rugby match.

Note from the editor: Andrew Wyns has written a guest article for us. Mr. Wyns is the Executive Director of Bridges of Greater New York, a transitional housing program for men who have been released from jail and are battling with addiction.

Rugby is a sport that has its origins in soccer. According to mythology, during a soccer game in 1823, an English schoolboy seized a soccer ball and ran down the field with it toward the opposition’s goal before being tackled. Today, the game is played in approximately 100 nations, and every four years, the best 20 rated teams compete in a world cup. Rugby is a full-contact sport that demands a high degree of cardiac fitness and is played with minimum protective equipment. It is, without a doubt, a “man’s sport.”

I started playing rugby a few months before the birth of my first kid. At his Christening, I had two black eyes, yet I was the proudest guy on the globe. I’ve always prided myself on being a man’s man, but as my kid got older, I realized I needed to learn how to be a man’s parent as well. Nothing accelerates a man’s maturation more than having a child. As my rugby skills improved, I learnt five valuable things that have helped me develop as a parent.

1. Every team need the presence of a captain.

Rugby teams, like other sports, have a captain. He’s the one who calls the plays. He talks to the referee and tries to reach an agreement. Most importantly, he motivates his teammates to win.

Every youngster need their father to be the team’s captain. Your youngsters are seeking guidance. They need someone to set the tone for how they should behave and respond in the face of the challenges they will confront. Someone acquired the notion that we should be best friends with our kids somewhere along the road. There are plenty of small individuals who would want to befriend our children; what they need is for us to be the leader. When dads do not take an active part in their children’s life, the youngsters will continue to emulate the father’s undesirable conduct.

2. Collaboration Is Crucial

Rugby is the most comprehensive team sport ever. To score, all fifteen players must be present, and each player must be able to play all fourteen other positions.

As dads, we must work together with our children to form a team. Building a team with your children does not imply being their closest friend; rather, it entails being their companion while they face life’s challenges. We can’t cure all of their difficulties, such as playground bullying and figuring out the complexity of the other sex, but we can be there for them through it all. It is the father’s responsibility to provide guidance and companionship to his children, listening to their frustrations and anguish and leading them toward the light at the end of the tunnel.

3. It’s Crucial to Be Firm

When it comes to playing defense in rugby, we have a saying: “Bend but don’t break.” Rugby, unlike football, does not need a certain number of yards for each play. Turnovers in rugby only occur when a player makes a mistake or the ball is stolen. A competent defensive squad can give up yards as long as they don’t allow the opponent to get behind the defense and break past their line. It has a solid but not stiff feel to it. When pushed too far, a rigid defense snaps, whereas a sturdy defense bends but does not shatter.


Fathers, as leaders and team players, need a tremendous deal of firmness. Children do not need a milquetoast father who bows under pressure. Children, on the other hand, do not need a father who is so strict that they never get the opportunity to fail on their own. Children need the chance to make mistakes. My youngster needed the chance to eat too much chocolate one Christmas to understand that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When it comes to learning, experience is frequently the greatest teacher, and if we shield our children from everything, they may never understand why they shouldn’t do certain things. We are not showing leadership if we enable them to do anything they want. As dads, it is our responsibility to set an example for our children and to guide them. We must learn to exist in the tension between being too soft and too hard–between bending and breaking.

4. Get Back Up and Keep Running When You’re Hit

Rugby is an 80-minute continuous-play sport. A rugby player is said to need the power of an Olympic wrestler and the endurance of a triathlete. The play does not come to a halt when the ball carrier is tackled. While other players compete for control of the ball, the ball carrier must relinquish it. Once possession is regained, the tackled player must get to his feet and re-enter the game.

We shall fail as dads. We are going to make errors. I recall being overly sensitive at times. I recall moments when I was too strict. I’ve sat with my head in my hands, feeling like a total failure as a parent on several occasions. It is, however, never too late to begin again. When we fall short, we must get back up and get back into the game. It is something that our youngsters are looking forward to. It demonstrates both our humanity and our might to them. Our failures help us become better team players, and our victories help us become better leaders. They will emulate our tenacity as dads if they see it in us.

5. Make a whole commitment to the game.

Rugby is an 80-minute sport, as I have said. The restricted number of replacements each side is permitted in a single game–a maximum of seven– adds to the sport’s arduous character. There are no line changes; the offensive and defensive lines are the same. Rugby players must be determined to playing the whole 80-minute game and dig hard to win.

We need to be equally committed as dads. It is not possible to stop. Yes, single moms have raised children successfully for years, but consider how much better their circumstances would have been if they had a father who was dedicated to the task. Our children rely on us to be there during the game.

Rugby has been the most fulfilling sport I’ve ever participated in, but becoming a parent has been the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. Rugby taught me how to be a better parent by teaching me how to be a leader and a team player, how to be firm and recover fast from failure, and most importantly, how to stay dedicated until the end.




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