Saturday is a Rugby Day in Wilkes-Barre PA

Deric Grohowski is a key player in the cog that is the Wilkes-Barre PA Breakers. This story below caught our eye this morning so we thought we'd share. As Deric so eloquently points out rugby is different. Those of us who love the sport know of Deric's feelings too well. Good on you Deric. Your love of the game is shared by many of us.

The Rugby "bug"

“The moment I knew I had found a sport like no other came during the very first match I suited up for. It was not the new exciting rules to learn, the constant tireless pace of both sides, or the physicality that hooked me. While I grew to love those over time, it was a meaningless exchange between a player and a coach that forever planted the Rugby "bug" in my heart. 

The player had just sustained a hit to his plant leg after successfully clearing the ball with a booming kick. While play flowed down field the player gathered his composure and limped off the field unassisted, not wanting to deter any focus or attention from the contest that continued. While doing a quick self-check on the sidelines, the player realizes that his day is over and the knock he sustained was a bit more troubling then a simple bruise or muscle strain. He collects himself and approached the coach, still limping in his efforts, never once looking for assistance or to see who may have noticed his struggle. With the sincerest dialect, he informs the coach that he is unable to continue and apologizes. The apology is not for pity, but in true regret that he is unable to contribute more to the team. Never once did he show an inkling of worry for himself, for his job, for the personal frustration this would cause him. Only the desire that a quick athletic tape application could get him back into fray, back alongside his teammates.

A Silent Commitment

The coach locks eyes with him, and thanks him for his contribution. Not another word is said between the two, only a firm handshake that would go unwitnessed by almost everyone in attendance. The match continued and life resumed, but never overshadowed what I had just observed.

A level of silent commitment like that to a team. The kind of which I have seen on occasion in other physically demanding sports, I would learn was an everyday occurrence here. Up to this time, I've watched other sports where men cry out over such minor injuries that it was hard to determine whether it was due to pain or lack of attention.

But not here.

I came to realize in terms of painful dedication that these men were the strong AND the silent. You would be hard pressed to find a man who has not been taped, glued, stretched, stitched, and on occasion even stapled to stay on the pitch. Not because they are forced, but because their desire to be there amongst brothers is so deeply burning.

It was from that I determined I would rather live my days as the weakest amongst these gentlemen/hooligan halfbreeds and the tight knit family they create, than be the strongest of any other group or club I had ever known growing up.”

- Deric Grohowski, a Breaker and a rugger now and forever.

The Wilkes-Barre Breakers

The Wilkes-Barre “Breakers” Rugby Football Club was founded in 1973. Coal mining became a popular trade at the turn of the 19th century in the Wyoming Valley of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre rugby adopted the the name, heritage and traditions of the region.

A coal breaker literally breaks coal into pieces, sorts the coal, removes impurities and packs coal for removal from the mine. Coal mining is demanding work traditionally completed by hearty men. The coal breaker epitomizes the hard labor of the trade. The Wilkes-Barre “Breakers” colors are black and red. Black symbolizes mined coal; red represents the blood of the miners who perished in mining accidents. Their logo shows the skull of a miner with his hard hat on, and the crossed pickaxe and sledgehammer - the tools of his trade.

Like the miners before them, the club has upheld a strong tradition through hard work and dedication.

One of their main goals is to promote the great sport of rugby. Rugby is not like any other sport. It is the only sport where you get to punish the other team, and then make friends with them afterwards, over a brew of course. The social aspect of rugby is just as important as what happens on the pitch. The traditions that the Breakers uphold off the pitch are the same traditions practiced world wide. Rugby has been referred to as the world’s largest fraternity.

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