They say that you shouldn't wish time away, however for many fans of a particular sport that is exactly what they do during the quiet off season. The days are marked on a calendar and ticked off week by week; pre-season matches are attended, any small bit of news is clutched upon and then the day circled on the calendar arrives. It is the day that life feels complete again. For England's domestic rugby fans today is that day, rugby's Christmas Day and in a few short hours the Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby will kick off the 2014/15 Aviva Premiership Season.
Whilst I sat sipping my morning coffee this morning and pondering the evening's game, I thought about the profound impact that rugby has on my life. Now I'm not saying that my summer was dull, far from it, I went on holiday, out for dinner with friends and still enjoyed a huge amount of rugby; the Summer Tests, the Women's Rugby World Cup, the Rugby Championship, the Super Rugby Final and Sevens Tournaments. However there is something special about the domestic season, something that is extremely difficult maybe impossible to replicate during those summer months when it takes a break. What is missing is the feeling of camaraderie, the feeling of solidarity and the sense of belonging that you get from watching your side battle it out through twenty two rounds of action. Collectively as fans you witness extreme highs and extreme lows of emotion, you laugh together and cry together, in short sport bonds people. Sport doesn't care if you drive a Range Rover or a push bike, it doesn't care if you earn £60k or £16k, instead it cares about your passion and your loyalty. During the course of 10 years of watching domestic rugby and just over a year of writing about it I have met friends for life. I have met people with whom I would never have crossed paths but through our shared love of the game and our shared journeys of emotion we have become great friends.
As a 26 year old female living in South West London I'm often asked the question whether I feel I am missing out, the question is asked because for nine months of the year I will always choose domestic rugby over the type of night out that writes off the whole of the next day. My answer to that question is 'Absolutely not', because without rugby I would not have met some wonderful people and quite frankly I gain more enjoyment out of watching a sport with my rugby family than I would getting 'smashed' in a club. My body thanks me for it and I am totally content, for the majority of my very best memories and experiences have rugby at their heart. So today, if you see someone that you know is a rugby fan and they are running around the office with a huge grin on their face, you know why, for tonight at 7.45pm their life is about to be complete again and normal service is about to resume... Happy New Rugby Season!