I have a very competitive nature and have calmed down a bit as I have matured. In my early twenties when I played competitive rugby it was a little more serious. We were getting paid for the matches that we played and it would be doubled for every victory. It added pressure and a competitive spirit but it also brings out the worst in people. Win at all costs started to creep in and the enjoyment factor disappeared for me and it became another job.
Those days were tough as you worked your normal day job and went straight after work to the rugby club for training. We used to train twice a week but when the money factor emerged an extra day was added. We played league games and cup games and the longer you stayed in the cup the more brutal the season was.
Monday was training with fitness and contact work and was normally the worst on the body. Tuesday was more tactical trying different moves and signals with fitness thrown in. Wednesday was normally for cup games as long as you didn't lose. Thursday was going over what you had learnt from the cup game and improving skills for the league game at the weekend. Friday was your day off and didn't mean much as your body constantly ached. Saturday was the league game and payment was made via a brown envelope placed in your sports bag. Sunday was a day off but normally you had so many bruises,cuts and sometimes stitches that you just hobbled around looking forward to another week of repeating itself.
When the money factor appeared on the scene the game changed and it went from something you enjoyed and had fun to deadly serious. If you got injured you would patch your self up the best you could to make it through the next week. The one injury I got which I think was worse than my broken ankle was a massive grass burn on my hip. It was a friendly game and the grounds were still hard from summer and I was blind sided from a tackle onto what seemed like a cricket pitch. It was like a chunk of flesh had gone with the skin and a bandage wasn't going to help. I tried 100 percent proof alcohol to dry it out and it is not advisable as I literally hit the roof every time it was poured on. The scar is still visible today as that roasty only healed after the season was over and we hadn't even started the season yet.
The money did increase the standard and quality of play though as we were fitter than ever. Aerobics classes were added to Monday training and we had specialists coming in to talk about nutrition etc. They were crazy times but I was glad to be part of the sport changing from amateur to professional.I do understand what is required to staying playing fit and it is not easy.