8th Annual Mike Lundberg Memorial Tournament

When:  Saturday, March 5, 2011 – 10:00am until ???

Where:  River Falls, WI Hoffman Park

What:  All-Comers tournament.

Names are drawn from a hat to to determine the teams. The number of entrants will determine the format. (7s,10s,15s) There will be a post-tourney social with food and beer for allparticipants. Entry fee includes t-shirt, and food and beverage. MEN AND WOMEN RUGGERSARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND.

Since 2004, the Mike Lundberg Benefit Tournament has provided a fun opportunity to play winter rugby for men and women of all skill levels while donating 100% of the proceeds to help defray the costs of Mikes treatments. Sadly, Mike lost his long battle with Leukemia in June of 2008. At the request of his family, we are continuing the tournament to celebrate his life and will donate the proceeds to a member or members of the Minnesota Rugby Community in need of assistance.

This year’s beneficiary will be a local wheelchair rugby team. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the team to help defray participation costs.Please RSVP to Ben Hanson at LHPROP1@ gmail.comor call 651-329-7166 by Friday, February5 so shirts and food can be purcahsed.  Entry fee is to be paid the morning of the tourney.

Click here for directions to Hoffman Park.

Spring Season Training

This spring there will be fitness requirements.  You can begin by working on the following.

100 Burpee Challange.  When practice begins in the Spring you will be required to perform 100 burpees (up downs) in five minutes.  This drill will be performed as the season moves along with the time going down each time.

Shane’s Filthy 50. The Filthy 50, as the players coming out for summer rugby can attest to, is a very challenging test. The Filthy 50 is a group of the following exercises preformed in succession:

– 50 walking lunges

– 50 push ups

– 50 body weight squats

– 50 situps

– 50 star jumps

You must complete this in 8 minutes. As the season progresses, there will be a sprint included.

For additional workouts, click here to check out what Mr. Kramer has put together for us as well

Rugby Renaissance: 2010

There’s a thread you follow.  It goes among things that change.  But it doesn’t change.  People wonder about what you are pursuing.  You have to explain about the thread.  But it is hard for others to see.  While you hold it you can’t get lost.  Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old.  Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.  You don’t ever let go of the thread.  William Stafford  1914 – 1993,  “The Way It Is”  August 2,1993

…it was there before the beginning of time (my time anyway); its workout and social fabric sustained me throughout much of my 30’s; it took backseat after my marriage; and now, twenty years later, with my marriage dissolved, St. Paul Rugby is there to hold me, sustain me, grow me and guide me.  I’ve embraced the new boys and they’ve accepted me into the fold.  I feel like I’ve returned home, to a home I never even knew I had.

It is a continuum – for me in a sense, biblical.  Definitely, Rugby is symbolic and is a tangible metaphor for my life.  It is a path I am on which sustained me prior to marriage, from which I deviated and to which I have now returned.  It is a path allegedly paved by William Webb Ellis in 1823 which preceded my love of American football at an early age, and which mysteriously pulled at me from the recesses of consciousness in my late 20’s.  I knew there was something called Rugby, from England, and from which American football evolved.  But I knew absolutely nothing about it.  In 1985, Rugby had a face for me in the Twin Cities: Metro Rugby RFC, through a gentleman I worked with and who had played at UW-Eau Claire.  (More about my pre-Pig days at a later date).

Perhaps it was right that I not discover Rugby until age 30. It is a more mature and complex game than American football.  It is more fluid, and both less glamorous and more glamorous. It is truly a team sport, where most of the same skills are demanded of every player; every player plays both offense and defense, and is capable at any time of scoring be it in forward play or back play.  Also, our coaches are typically our peers, unpaid, and impart selflessly their knowledge, love of the game, patience and hopes through their sacrifice, time and planning.  None of us play for money but, in fact, pay to play.  Players are typically mature, self-directed, draw from a deeper pool of life experience, I believe.  The other beauty of Rugby to me is that few of us take ourselves too seriously; or most of us are unafraid to laugh at ourselves and occasionally be outrageously foolish. This is one of the charms of Rugby culture which initially draws us in.  And this tendency toward foolishness (which liberates us from the constraints or expectations of society / job / family), along with the constructive release of our aggressions on the pitch, combine to make us, overall, very well-balanced human beings.  (Anyone who disagrees with this last assertion, I’ll gladly have it out with you over a pitcher of beer – hopefully Newcastle, but I’ve learned to appreciate the cheaper American lagers over the past few weekends).

 On another level Rugby, as I know it, is absolutely unlike any professional or recreational sport in that the host team provides a social for the opposing team, where beer (or other beverage), food, fellowship, songs and the centuries-old tradition of snuff (if Cros or Kato are present) are shared.  This hospitality, I believe, in addition to the love of the sport, is what appeals so much to us Americans.  Can you imagine the Yankees/Twins, Packers/Vikings or opposing teams at a local bowling league actively socializing together for three or more hours after the competition singing foolish, old songs, aspiring to heights of foolishness to win the party?…  professionals are too aloof, too elite….  your local recreational bowling or softball team may be too insular or exclusive. This tradition speaks to me on a broader level; ideally (and I don’t always achieve this), we should resist judging an opponent, perceived enemy, an aggressive driver until you get to know them, perhaps over a drink or a meal… get to know their story.

A fellow I work with keeps telling me how he’s getting in shape and he can’t wait to “hurt” some people on the Rugby field. Granted, I like that he’s interested in the game.  But he’s really got it all wrong.  I told him yes, we practice and play hard but there is so much more to the game, starting with the spectacular individuals which make up our team – and I don’t mean athletically; I mean the quality of the people, the personalities, people you support in the scrum or ruck and people you support and care about off the field.  My hope is that if this guy ever does come out for the Pigs, he’ll be transformed with a love of the game, softened with the almost familial sense of inclusion, and his world will be broadened.  As it stands now, this gent has only a distant, fear-based perception of Rugby rather than a present, living passion based in love.

And let’s not forget the “outlaw” (help me here – I’ve been trying to come up with the right word) origins of the game, After all, Webb Ellis did something radically outside the rules.  Brazen a move though it was, he articulated for many – then and for future generations – the latent possibilities, excitement, liberation and pleasure of running with the ball in your hands and tackling the opponent with your shoulder and legs, driving him back or bringing him down.  It was bold, brash and brought out the natural aggession we all have, which soccer so poorly suppresses and disguises.  And while Rugby is no longer revolutionary (it has an almost 200-year history and has been played for some time within the confines of ever-evolving Rugby Laws) we all still embrace the boldness, however it played out, with which Rugby evolved from soccer. And we Americans will always embrace Rugby as it stands so uniquely apart from our stop/start, self-important, flamboyant, overpaid American football.  Rugby is beautiful, intelligent, understated, bold, primal, ideally selfless.

I have often maintained that the “hitting” aspect of Rugby is something rarely taught; you either love it/crave it or you want nothing to do with it.  Hitting and getting hit are wonderful, immediate and visceral affirmations of “Yes – I am alive!  That felt great!  I’m ready to keep on fighting!”  Undoubterdly, I learned hitting as I emulated my beloved Packers, growing up in eastern Wisconsin, playing neighborhood tackle football.  Certainly in Junior (Middle) High School and through High School, I nurtured that love of contact through organized football.  At age 55 I still crave the training for rugby: weightlifting, running, pilates and now pulling Kramer’s truck!  I still love being on the field late morning or early afternoon, sun, overcast, rain or snow.  I have come to know the different scents of the earth, grass and air on the pitch in varying weather conditions. I will always cherish the fading sun as we practice late in early spring or in the shortening days of autumn.  I still crave the chaos, the contact, the hitting, the ever-striving for the perfect gap, the perfect tackle, the perfect ruck, raging against the anonymous – yet named opponent.

Never  am I striving to hurt an opponent; in fact, the opponent is merely an abstraction – a real-life, tangible obstacle in my intangible pursuit to be the best that I can be, to be as mentally sharp and as physically fit as I can be, to persist through and overcome difficulty and disappointment in my life.  And while I still struggle to grasp some Rugby fundamentals and need repitition upon repetition (you gents have all seen me struggle to do a rucking drill), I see all this as life unfolding as it should for me.

Rugby has become an imperative in my life, much like sleeping, dreaming, eating, going to work.  It has become instinctual, like the autumn migration of birds, the perilous march of the Emperor penguins in the Antarctic, the female sea turtle which returns to her native sands to dig, lay and bury her eggs, the hatchlings which upon piercing through their shells, instinctively scatter into the sea, only a few to survive.

And this brings me back to the beginning.  Rugby is a metaphor for my life.  Not that my life is a constant athletic contest.  But there have been losses, things I wish might have been different, things I’ve fought to overcome. This is the life I’ve been given.  It is a wonderful life, I am blessed and grateful for many things.  Yet Rugby remains that realm where I can strive for excellence in tactile skills and physical performance/expression which my worklife may not afford and through which I can transcend all frustration, loss and regret.

Though I’ve had challenges in life – and who hasn’t? – I view myself as a happy, positive and well-adjusted human being. True, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  I’m also passionate; I love life, diversity, learning and excellence in work, art / craft or sport / physical conditioning..  As a person, I love, grieve, strive, learn, play and work with passion.  And I know many of you share some of my passions.  And those of you I don’t know, I would ask, what man would put himself on the Rugby pitch for eighty minutes or 140 minutes (playing both A & B games) and deny that he has passion?

This is my story.  I make no apologies.  I have done this exercise, hoping to articulate how Rugby fits within the context of my life and perhaps to some degree, yours.  Sure, some of my story and perceptions are serious.  You may be wondering, this dude is serious – doesn’t Chip play just for the sport, the fun, the partying?  Well, yes.  But Rugby is more than just technical excellence, conditioning, fun and festivity.  It is life and passion, winning and losing, striving, struggling, succeeding, denial, getting back up and fighting on, celebrating.  It is the “thread” in my life’s fabric.

I invite you to share your story.

Chip Stroebel

May 15, 2010