Surviving University Rugby (A Fresher's Guide) Part 1 Fresher's Week
Being part of a University Rugby Team is one of the most exciting, hilarious and satisfying experiences I have ever encountered. However it does not come without its shortcomings. Being a fresher is a daunting experience in itself without the added pressures of joining a society that will require such a significant slice of your time and commitment. At points during your first few terms there will be moments that feel like an uphill struggle but the positive result of “slugging it out” will greatly out-do the adverse side effects of the various challenges you are bound to face.
Unfortunately a huge percentage of individuals drop out of their team early on or don’t even make an appearance because of rumours and stories they have heard. As my first year comes to an end I reminisce upon the concoction of cringe worthy tipsy misdemeanours and huge efforts to keep up with age old traditions, I felt it necessary to inform other’s planning to join of a few tips and regulations I have picked up to help you through. Targeting specific milestones and events throughout the season this is “A Fresher’s Guide to Surviving University Rugby”. God knows I could have done with it!
The second you arrive at university you will be bombarded by an unnecessary amount of information, deals, meetings and events. Even before I finished unpacking I was whisked out of my accommodation and out onto the town. If you love to drink fresher’s week will be your Mecca; however it’s disturbingly easy to blow half your student loan out the window if you’re not careful. This is the time for first impressions and things you do in fresher’s week could potentially determine your nickname for the rest of your student life.
Fresher’s Week Do’s
-DO learn fast. Many of the traditions and drinking games are memory based. You will most likely not be told the rules before you begin playing so paying attention early on is essential. Seniors will try to catch you out and if you make sure you at least know vaguely what you’re supposed to be doing you’re less likely to be tactical chundering after half an hour.
-DO be resilient. Be open-minded and take everything with a pinch of salt, if any of the second or third years give you a noticeably hard time just remember they have been through it before. They are probably testing you and you can build respect by showing that you’ve got bottle. If anything is proposed to you that seems unacceptably inappropriate or you’re very uncomfortable with just remember you don’t have to do it and if you explain why you don’t want to do it people tend to be reasonable.
-DO attend the taster session/trial and first social. This is your chance to show people what you’re made of. Don’t hold anything back on the pitch. Smashing a few people early on will show you’re serious about the game. At the social afterwards you can make up for it. At the start of the year the majority of the team will be out after just receiving their loans and being away all summer so this is a great time to socialise.
-DO learn to love the cheapest pint; at the start of the year I had avoided drinking beer and lager simply because I prefer the taste of cider and spirits. However after a couple of months it is no longer financially viable to spend £3.50 on a pint. I have become desensitised to even the cheapest nastiest of brews. At £1 a pint in most establishments it makes sense. Learning to effectively pre-drink will also benefit your bank balance.
-DO avoid getting with rugby girls. The amount poor banter you will get for making yourself “too well acquainted” may land you in with a whole heap of forfeits (they are in general a lovely bunch of people).
-DO avoid the hussies. Lots of individuals make a bad name for them-selves in the first week and are more often than not branded with unfavourable statuses. If a girl opens with the line “I’ve only slept with six people this week” it’s probably best to leave it, after all you don’t want to catch anything.
DO know your way home; after spending four hours wandering around the high street absolutely trashed on my second night I can tell you this is a must. One of the unfortunate side effects of vodka is apparently a reduction in spatial awareness. On this note it’s also good to have a reliable taxi number (Be aware that if you live a long distance away from the clubs it’s best to get a cab before 12pm because most companies increase the fare after then).
Fresher’s Week Don’ts
DON’T just meet the rugby team. Even though you’re most likely to end up spending a large portion of your time with the lads it’s important to diversify. Go out with your flatmates, people from your course or anyone you meet that seems cool (trust me there will be loads of them).
DON’T underestimate the duties of a fresher. You are now bottom of the pile. If any menial tasks need completing, you will be assigned to do it. From cleaning the shirts after a match to taking glasses back to the bar. It’s really not as bad as it sounds; just remember you’ll be the one ordering people around next year.
-DON’T be a smart ass. This will not be appreciated. Confidence is important; Cockiness will do you no favours. You might think insulting a senior on your first night out will win you respect but you will pay for it in the long-term. They have influence on the rest of your year and it’s a good idea to get to know the lads a bit before taking the piss out of them.
-DON’T brag. I cannot emphasise just how important this is. If you bullshit about your previous experience on pitch or the amount you can drink people will test you. If you can’t live up to your claims people will remember it and so will your liver.
-DON’T get kicked out. If your team is like many others it frequents many of the same pubs and clubs every social and getting banned from somewhere could jeopardise your opportunity to hang out with the lads.
If you stick to these guidelines you shouldn’t spend too much time wrapped around your toilet bowl, waking up at 2pm in your communal halls shower or a field twelve miles out of town as one individual discovered after a particularly heavy night.
One final thing that might come up during the first seven days is a Fresher’s Challenge. Fresher’s Challenges are laid down by seniors and there is no strict guideline to their context. They can be anything from stealing an oversized rubber duck from the window of the bookstore at the top of town to cleaning someone’s unkempt student house. These challenges are open to any fresher’s and are non-compulsory, but completion leads to a sort of “get out of jail free card” for situations you find yourself in, in the future.
How important do you think "Fresher's Week" is as a component of the university experience?
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