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Rugby feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by wehrwd, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. wehrwd

    wehrwd Guest

    Hey all,

    I'm looking for some feedback on a rugby feature I wrote a couple of months ago. A little background info: I'm a college student and got a chance to work at a nearby paper over break. This story was about two people who were being inducted into a local rugby hall of fame.

    One more quick note: there are two sentences I don't particularly like ... fifth paragraph, "end without reward" sounds awkward, and I think the closing sentence is cheesy and I wish I would have come up with something else. Deadling was bearing down, however.

    Anyway, looking for some more feedback. Thanks in advance!


    Steve Franck survived the ankle injury. He survived the torn MCL. He played through five shoulder injuries and numerous stitches.

    But the four concussions during one season?

    That was a little too much, even for a rugby player as rabid as Franck.

    “That’s why I’m not playing anymore,” said Franck, 45. “I just said, ‘You know what, I’d like to not be drooling over myself when I’m 80 years old.’”

    And so ended a 20-year rugby career that started in the early 1980s. His career didn’t end without reward, however. Franck, along with longtime friend and teammate Brad Palmer, was recently inducted into the Faribault Bokspring Hall of Fame.

    ‘It was very much a family atmosphere’

    Franck discovered rugby while studying abroad at the University of Birmingham in England. He was hooked from the very beginning. When he came back to what was then Mankato State University, he played on the school’s club team. Then, for 16 years, Franck played for the Bokspring, competing in a sport he describes succinctly:

    “You pound the bejeezers out of everybody for 90 minutes, and at the end of the game there’s no hostility. We’re like brothers.”

    The pounding didn’t have quite the same effect on Palmer, whose worst injuries during his two-plus decades of rugby were a few broken noses. Palmer, in fact, still plays occasionally at age 51.

    But like Franck, Palmer attended Mankato State and describes himself as getting hooked on the sport immediately.

    The two enjoyed more than just the matches themselves, though. They also enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship fostered between players, teams and even families that followed the games.

    “That was the main thing about the rugby team — it evolved from a group of single guys into a little bit more of a family thing,” Palmer said.

    “The after-game atmosphere was very kid-friendly,” added Franck, who noted teams frequently hosted picnics after games. “That’s what I enjoyed. It was very much a family atmosphere.”

    The two have dozens of stories about matches they played, people they met and trips they took. They’ve traveled as far as Winnipeg, Canada, to play in tournaments. They laugh about Franck once having to cram 10 players into a single hotel room in Iowa. They reminisce about games they won, games they lost and even games they had to forfeit.

    And when the subject turns to Franck’s wife, who is battling cancer, the two turn somber. But rugby is linked even to this part of Franck’s life: At a 2005 fundraiser, fellow rugby players showed up en masse to support Franck and his wife.

    “It’s like a fraternal brotherhood,” said Palmer, who met his own wife through the sport in the mid-1980s.

    ‘A great honor’

    Franck still misses playing rugby, but he knows there isn’t much he can do about it.

    “Priorities change,” he said. “I get older. It is what it is.”

    Franck and Palmer still take pride in seeing their sport flourish, however. The Bokspring, who were established in the early 1970s, continue to play today. Faribault High School now has what Franck calls phenomenal boys and girls club rugby teams.

    Others have remembered Franck and Palmer, as well; in December, the two found out they were inducted into the Bokspring’s Hall of Fame, something Palmer calls “a great honor.” Franck agreed.

    “There were times that you are so sore and so broke and so battered, and you still show up and you still do what you had to do,” Franck said. “There were times that you made trips that you couldn’t afford and you couldn’t have the time for, but you were still there for, and it’s an extremely good feeling (to be inducted).”

    The two, who’ve played rugby for more than a combined 40 years, each received a plaque for being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    “They say there’s a jacket to come,” Palmer noted with a smile. “I’ve been promised! We’ve got the plaque, we’ll see about the jacket.”

    In the meantime, though, the pair still possesses something much more meaningful:

    Their friendships and fond memories.
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    Two things:

    (1) I think your lead could have been stronger because I had no idea what the purpose of the piece was, or where it was going.

    It would have helped to spell it out: Franck and Palmer were inducted into the So-and-So Hall of Fame on date X, in location Y. It was fitting that the two men were in the same honorary class because ...

    Then launch into the profile.

    (2) Major omission: You say these guys are in a Hall of Fame, but you never give any impressive statistics or say what major tournaments they played. You didn't even mention what their positions were.

    Even if you don't know the first thing about rugby, you owe it to your readers to give them real information. In your next piece, see if you can dig a little deeper.

    Hope that helps.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    A rugby match is 80 minutes.

    And making some club's "Hall of Fame" doesn't mean much. Fairbault plays in Division III. which the fourth tier of rugby in this country. It's a beer-league team. If they've only traveled to Winnipeg, that's not much of a team.

    I wouldn't call playing for this team a "career." It's a bit insulting to players who give up much more to play for the Eagles and don't have overseas contracts.

    Sorry to tell you that, but you should know this before embarking on a feature.
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