Rugby is the greatest sport in the world for two key reasons. Contest and continuity. There is no other sport in which the ball is contestable at every phase of play. There is no other sport in which you could theoretically play forever.
But the best element of our sport is by far the tackle contest.
All participants have rights and responsibilities when it comes to engaging with the tackle. The Tackled player needs to play the ball and move away. The tackler needs to let go of his opponent and move away as well. Everyone else needs to approach the area (called a tackle) from their own side with their back to their own goal line. If you are on your feet, and manage to be the first there, you are allowed to pick the ball up.
Now whilst that sounds incredibly simple, the reality is far from it. More often than not, no one has undertaken their responsibilities. And you find a tackled player still holding onto the ball when an arriving player wants to pick it up. Add into the mix (most) referees don’t want to blow 1000 penalties a game and we find ourselves in a situation requiring a functional test to see who should be rewarded and who needs to try again.
The test currently at play is called “survive the hit”. You’ve arrived at the tackle on your feet from the right direction AND managed to stay on your feet whilst locating and laying hands on the ball. But your final test is to survive the hit from the next arriving opponent. A tough but fair test to seperate the winners from the try hards. If the player is knocked over, it’s simply play on. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
So often the unsuccessful player looks hard done by, often with an element of truth to their claim, but such is the nature of our game and such is life.
Things are never as clear and simple as they appear in the rule book or instruction manual. Life is messy, far from easy.
Jesus calls his followers to pick up their cross and follow him. Hardly the simple request. Hardly an easy sell. But the best things in life are never easy.
The bloke who wrote Hebrews says;
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Hebrews 12:1-3
With so many opponents in this life, will you survive the hit?