The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

The truth as I see it

Forward unto thine enemy

The other day I was driving to a party and I had to stop real fast. It was about 11 p.m. and I was heading down a pretty empty neighborhood when I came up on three dudes just wailing on this kid on the ground between them. I slammed on the brakes and swerved to the side of the road. Then I leapt out screaming, “Who wants to die?” Apparently none of them did, because they all fled into an alley.

I went in after them. I could tell they were hiding because there was nobody in sight. So without a clue as to where the three guys I’d seen in my headlights were, I continued in.

That’s a true story, and walking down that alley, with my dukes up ready to lay down a hearty asswhuppin’, I felt like John Wayne. I wasn’t thinking about getting beat on, but about how I planned to destroy the first one of those punk-asses who got in my way. The fact that I’ve done about five years of Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu helped a bit.

That’s how I feel every time I play rugby. I’m a little guy – six foot-three, but only about a 150 pounds – and at any given time, I’d bet I’m the smallest guy on the field. But that doesn’t’ bother me one bit, because I’m crazy.

I started playing about eight months ago. My first game was the most awkward experience of my life. I wasn’t sure what to do, I didn’t have a clue how to pace myself for two hours of running, and I didn’t know anyone else on the team. The pictures of the game are hilarious, because you can read all those things on my face.

There’s a great one of my first line-out ever. It’s our own throw-in and I lost to the other team. You can tell our hooker is screaming in exasperation and I look like a pathetic moron with no clue how to play. Pretty tough.

Then I went crazy.

I realized that most people are scared to death of physical contact, and getting hurt or killed has an instinctual association with fear. Most people have this, and it hurts their game. You can use this to your advantage.

When the ball-carrier is tackled, you get a ruck. That’s where both teams make a mad scramble toward the ball and meet right over it in a massive head-on collision as one side reaches to get the ball and the other smashes into them and pushes them back. The timid teams jog into a ruck and push the bad guys with their arms. The crazy people come in at a dead sprint and grind their shoulders right into your solar plexus. Crazy teams can ruck out two guys at once and usually give everyone else a really hard time.

Tackles are another place where it helps to be crazy, and I’m working on that right now. Usually, when two people meet on the field, the guy with the bigger balls wins. Unless you’re a total dumbass you can tell who’s going to tackle you about three seconds before it happens.

Then you have two options: Either brace for impact and hope the grass tastes nice, or drop your shoulder and get ready to hurt someone. I still get a little scared when I have to make a tackle. I wrap up and get below the waist, but I wait for them to come to me. That’s timid and disgraceful. I need to be coming at them because my only real advantage is speed. Oh, and the crazy. That’s another thing – there are so many subtle nuances you can pick up to help your game that you always have something to learn.

Case in point: During my entire first season with SMU, I was incapable of making it past a single tackler. If even one person got their arm on me it was all over. They would slow me down and in some cases, I’d end up losing ground. I’ll never forget our game in San Angelo where I dropped my shoulder to one tackler and got completely blindsided by another, who proceeded to team up with the initial threat and carry me ten feet backwards before giving me some kind of professional wrestling body slam onto the ground.

That one felt like a car wreck.

Every injury I’ve had, from my stubbed toe to the hangover I got last week, came back and I really thought I was going to die. Or at least puke blood on somebody. I didn’t die, and unfortunately I didn’t get to puke any blood, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t jog it off and get back in the game.

Then this spring we played OU and as I was picking up the ball, I saw this dude charging at me out of the corner of my eye. That’s a bad thing. I was bent over with my hands stretched forward, and he was going full speed right into my side. There wasn’t even time for my life to flash before my eyes; all I could do was brace for impact. Turns out the guy weighed like 82 pounds or something so he bounced right off me.

I pretty much gave up at that point and kept my talents resigned to rucks, tackles, and winning line-outs – which I can do now on a pretty consistent basis thanks to my long arms and complete disregard for my personal safety.

Last week, I played my first game with the Dallas Harlequins. They recruited me from our last university game of the season, and I was a little pissed that I wasn’t starting. With nothing to do, and once again not knowing anyone on the team, I walked over and asked some old fart how to get past a tackle. He told me sprint in as hard as I could and, right as I hit the guy, to kind of lean my back towards him as I pushed my head under his armpit so my body would just, “slip through” him.

Late, late in the second half, I finally got in.

They needed a flanker but I wanted to play so bad I volunteered without a clue what to do. I went in. When you’re on the field with a bunch of strangers it doesn’t matter how long you’ve played or how hot your girlfriend is; all that matters is what you do in those first few minutes.

Welcome to Judgement Day.

We lost the first scrum. These are really professional club teams so the ball passed quickly to the outside. Tackle, the ball went out of bounds. It’s time for a line-out and God bless them, I get to jump in the front pod. Whatever our opposition expected from me, they didn’t get it. I’m light, so I go skyward like a rocket ship, and up there it’s just like a boxing match. Whoever gets their hands in the right place first wins.

I kick ass at this. I jabbed my hand between his and got three fingertips on the ball, just enough to flip it up out of his grasp and toward our team. As soon as my feet touched down I charged to support the ball carrier and the tackle happened right as I came in 10 feet behind the ball. I’m at full run, so I accelerated into a dead sprint and that giant pink fleshy mess I collided with is probably still crying to his mom about it.

Late in the game, I got the ball. I’d been running back and forth for 15 minutes like a wild man, so I was tired. But something went wrong and no backs were around, so I had the ball. That means one thing: Go forward as fast as you can. I was captain of my high-school track team, and running is a talent I’ve never lost, so I took the energy I had left and dumped it all into my legs.

Then I saw the biggest, fattest guy on the whole field step right in front of me and break down for a tackle. I dropped my shoulder like I always did, and for the first time, I decided to give him the slip I learned not 20 minutes earlier. His hands closed in to bring me down but I was moving so quick that I blew right between his right arm and gut. Somehow this narrow escape shot me forward, right into the second guy at warp speed two.

I rammed into him head-on, and he wrapped his arms in to bring me down. But I was crazy. I pressed my back into him and churned my legs forward as I worked my head to find the opening between his arm and his body. I found it on his right side this time, so I had to twist my whole body around and just as I started to break through, a second guy came in to help him.

It’s now two on one, and they’re both bigger than me. But I’m crazy, so I continue to work my way downfield. The third tackler came in and my forward crawl instantly decelerated into a slow grind downfield.

Then support came. The Harlequin forwards charged in like a pack of rabid hunting dogs and that meant it was time for me to go down. Four guys. That’s what it took.

At the end of the game, I got a few slaps on the back and a nod from the coach who at that point still didn’t even know my name. I was covered in someone else’s blood and lost most of the skin on my right knee. There’s still a bruise on my back and for the next two days I was sore from head to toe like the first time I got dropped by those boys in San Angelo.

Next week we play Denver.

That’s why you gotta be crazy.

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