On School Spirit and Attending My First Rugby Match

Tailgates in the parking lot, every seat in the bleachers filled with students wearing matching colors, and not a single face in the crowd without a smear of war-paint. 

To me, this is what college game-day is all about. At least, that's what I can see from the snapchats and instagrams of my friends. 

This weekend, I went to my first university sports game here in Edinburgh. I know what you're thinking- it's been a year, and you haven't witnessed one of the most quintessential college experiences ever?  

Every university (whether in America or not) is vastly different in their "sports culture." City-centric schools seem to have little interest in their sports teams, while larger, more campus-oriented schools often take intense pride in their sports. And by "intense" I'm talking an endless sea of bright school colors, massive pre-game parties, and pretty much every student attending the game. 

That time we tried to be super-spirited back in high school.

But see, Edinburgh has two things working against it in terms of school spirit. For one thing, it's located in a big city, so we don't depend on school-sanctioned events to entertain us on the weekends (though sometimes I wish people were more into university events here!). And in another sense, I always have to keep in mind that this simply isn't America. I'd say that as a whole, American's are more into college sports than they are in the UK (or probably even Europe as a whole). I mean, March Madness is literally almost as exciting as any championship for professional sports. It's hard to believe that the players in these high stakes games are my age! 

So, what sports match did I eagerly (hah) watch this weekend? Well, of course it would have to be one of the most typically British sports out there- rugby! The University of Edinburgh was playing St. Andrew's University in two matches (both women's and men's) at Murrayfield- Scotland's largest stadium. I was chatting to the cab driver on my way over to Murrayfield, and he asked me if this was going to be my first rugby match (to which I replied "yes," no doubt). Surprisingly, he said that he had never been to a rugby match before either, as he found the sport too "aggressive." To be quite honest, that's the impression I had prior to watching the game as well. 

Don't know much about rugby? Here's how I'd describe it in a sentence: a bunch of muscular guys in short-shorts throwing the ball backwards and running forwards attempting to score "tries." So clearly I'm not the right person to ask on this subject (but that's what Google searches are for ;) ) 

While I'm no expert on rugby, you better believe that I've been to a fairly decent number of sports games before (both professional and amateur level). I mean, I have three older brothers so if I wasn't attending a sports game, the TV was always tuned to ESPN or NESN on the weekends.

Much like any other sports game, the rugby match consisted of lots of (overpriced) beer, uncomfortable seating, and a few boisterous chants for the home team. 

But what made this match different from a weekend college game back in America? Well, school colors weren't exactly a thing (Edinburgh's are red and blue, but the players wore green because that's the color of our sports union), and the stadium was hardly filled- even for a free game! Murrayfield's capacity is around 67,000, and the venue was far more empty than it was full. Still, the section that we sat in was buzzing with energy, and we all had loads of fun, so that's really all that mattered. 

I actually never envisioned myself going to one of those "rah rah" colleges, even if I had gone to school back in America. While I enjoy sports enough, it's not what I would want to be doing every (or even most) weekends of the semester. But still, I think we all need a little bit of school spirit every now and then- whether it's a packed stadium at a homecoming football game, or an equally excited, but substantially smaller, group of enthusiastic students at a rugby match.     



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