My name is Dusty Bratzler and this is my story. I played football as long as I can remember. I started tackle football in sixth grade and I played all through middle school and on into high school. I had a great high school career that allowed me to have a chance to play college football. I played college football for five years and I had a pretty good college career that could have let me pursue a career in the NFL. I chose to pursue my career that I went to school for. After my decision to not play football anymore I was left with an itch for contact and an itch for competition.
What was there to do? I was asked to join a Semi Pro football team about the same time that I stumbled upon rugby. I met a guy that played rugby for the Arkansas Gryphons. I thought why rugby? I went to one practice and was asked to come to a match against the U of A that weekend. I went with no intention to play, but toward the end of the match the coach put me in. I only played about eight minutes but it was enough to get me hooked. I have now played for almost a full year with the Gryphons and I love how the guys and coaches are teaching me the game.
I played football for twelve years and all of my time was spent on the defensive side. I never touched the ball unless the offense made a mistake. Now I get to do what I do best, play defense, but also get a chance to touch the ball. I got my first taste of scoring a try this spring (2013) against the KC Blues. Like I said I had never scored in my football career that I played for so many years, but scored in my first year of rugby. Learning rugby has given me a new lease on competition. It pushes me to be stronger, faster, and mentally tough. If I didn’t have rugby I would just be getting older and fatter.
So I ask you. Why not rugby? If you’re sitting there having that itch to do something competitive than get up and try this out. If you have some competitive blood in you then once you get a taste of rugby you won’t ever turn back. With a combination of a great game and great teammates, learning rugby has been better than my years on the football field. I challenge you, if you are on the fence about playing, come out to practice and just learn. This is a legit league with players that are still training their bodies for competition. This is not just some old guys meeting up to roll around in the grass. Also, to those who are thinking that you may get hurt or don’t know if you should try it, a wise man once said,
“I would rather be ashes than dust.”
(Quoted to me by Caleb Reed Flanker for the Arkansas Gryphons)
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