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Levelling the playing field

Back when my bones and muscles didn’t ache as much as they do now and when I could chug a beer in less than 10 seconds, I played rugby for my university girl’s team.

I won’t lie to you now about our achievements during my three years on the team. We did not win one game. In fact, we were lucky to get any points on the board at all and most scores were in the 80-0 range.

Needless to say, we weren’t really playing for the glory of a win.

Instead, rugby for us was all about initiation parties, sing-a-longs, drinking beer, having fun and getting a little exercise.

And I hate to admit it but what better way to meet boys than to join a girl’s rugby team?

One practice with the boys stands out vividly in my memory when the girls lined up against the boys for some ‘touch’ rugby.

I was busy chit chatting to other players, and generally watching the grass grow when the ball was put in play. So, when the 220-pound flanker on the boy’s team came barrelling towards me, I was totally unprepared.

As I stood there staring at him, like a deer caught in headlights, it never occurred to me that he would actually hit me.

The poor unthinking boy didn’t just hit me. He smoked me. And as I lay flat on my back with the wind knocked out of me, stunned and stupefied that I had just been tackled to the ground by a boy, I could hear the general protest unfolding on the field around me.

"How could you do that?"

"She’s a girl."

"You could have seriously hurt her."

If I hadn’t figured it out before, it was never more apparent to me at that time that the girls and the boys were not on an equal playing field.

Since moving to Whistler I’ve discovered that there seems to be a more level playing field when it comes to boys and girls and the sports that we do.

Don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely no misconceptions that I could last more than two seconds against a flanker or a winger from the Whistler Hoary Marmots. The general laws of nature must prevail to some extent no matter how far the women’s movement has come. We are smaller, on the whole. We aren’t as strong, on the whole. And most of us aren’t particularly interested in pitting ourselves against boys on a rugby field.

But I’ve found in Whistler that girls are expected to perform on par with the boys. It’s a refreshing change.


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