Rugby mum

For mud’s sake!

For Mud’s Sake

I was collecting my daughter from rugby training at school when I bumped into a usually calm mother looking very agitated. Her lips pursed in disgust, she pulled wipe-after-wipe from her handbag. Her son was stood beside her in his socks trying to tease his coated rugby boots into a bag she held with the tips of her fingers. “Ugh, this is the only thing I just can’t stand about him playing rugby,” she said.

Immediately, I knew what she meant…the MUD. Stifling a laugh, I put on my most sympathetic face, and mumbled something about how it could be worse. But I wanted to tell her the truth—that things will get a lot worse—a lot muddier, so she might as well get used to it.

But I could also empathise. She’s not the only mum put off by the yucky brown stuff that we all know is part and parcel of rugby. Many rugby mums, especially if they come from a non-rugby family like me may have absolutely no idea what they were in for. But as we do, dealing with the mud is something we learn on the job, just as we learned to tolerate dirty nappies!

No-one actually signs up for the mess. The start of season is usually beautiful…green grass, blue skies, and hardly-need-a-cardi weather. But that is ‘fake news’. It might seem all clean and shiny when you sign up to a season of rugby, but it seems that as soon as you do, the heavens open and you are fully initiated (drenched) into actual rugby season weather.

Before my son started playing rugby in the Under 6’s, I didn’t even own a pair of wellies. Mud was something I never had to experience when I lived in London. But now I have a few pairs— a pretty floral pair, lined Hunter boots, and industrial strength waterproof snow boots (which I very unfashionably wear for most of the season).

Naturally there was some initial discomfort when things started to get mucky, but I soon picked up some rugby-parent tactics. Sure, I initially felt silly slamming boots together to shake off the mud (eyes and mouth closed), but I also developed a habit of carrying spare clothes and shoes, and a washable baby blanket to protect the car. It is also most essential to carry a few strong carrier bags, and perhaps have a dedicated cardboard box for rugby stuff in the back of the car.

Though there were lots of “eek” moments at the beginning, I must admit that it is satisfying seeing the children so happy to play in the mud. There is reassurance that you’re not raising a couple of snowflakes who are afraid of getting dirty. In recent articles, scientists have got on board suggesting that playing in mud is good for you. Apparently the exposure to dirt and germs do well to prevent allergies, and as well as making them more connected to nature, it makes them happier too.

Speaking of happy, I’ve just watched our Under 13s do press-ups and chase each other into a humungous muddy puddle during mid-week training. This is supposed to be hard work, but they are grinning ear-to-ear. These are happy times that our children will always remember—so here’s hoping that these young rugby players grow up to continue playing, and keep on getting muddy for the sake of good, clean fun.

Tell us at BRM your muddy experiences, and of course we want to see your pictures!

Nima Suchak