I wrote Blood, Sweat, and Beer just over ten years ago. It was a tribute to some of the best years of my life and the ragtag bunch of guys who helped make it so great. Yes, as I said in BSB, those guys became family in many ways.
Over the past decade, my relationship with my rugby family has become more distant in many ways. Yeah, I sometimes made some matches of the current club and hoisted a beer or two with some of my old teammates at others. However, for the most part, we maintained our relationship through social media.
That changed, at least briefly, on July 16, 2022. Some of our crew spent months planning a reunion to celebrate fifty years of rugby history in Denton, Texas. Of course, as with any reunion that covers decades, things changed over the years.
Beer was still a big part of the weekend, but the blood and the sweat were not as evident. Of course, as Texas and much of the northern hemisphere are experiencing unusually, if not record-breaking high temperatures, simply walking from your car to the venue could cause you to break a sweat. Still, the only blood I shed was while shaving. Looking at everyone else, I think it is safe to say they also experienced minimal bleeding.
Sadly, my commitments elsewhere and lack of partying stamina limited my participation. I could only attend one event, but it was a great time. It was great because the organizers did a great job, and some of the crew I had not seen in person or online in years showed up.
It was great for another reason as well. When I wrote the piece in 2012, one of my closest mates responded he thought the days I remembered of rugby brotherhood and camaraderie were fading away, if not already gone.
He thought rugby, like other sports, was becoming too commercial and professional. It was no longer a bunch of clubs that happened to field teams. It was drifting toward a business model of a sports team that called itself a club. Even the old established clubs were changing.
As with any human endeavor, rugby has evolved. It will continue to evolve and change, but at the moment, it seems to have still the feeling I loved. It felt like a bunch of friends getting together to swap lies, have a beer, recall their gloried pasts, and look forward to seeing the current club members pound their opponents before buying them a beer once the season started.