Brett Diamond, RMC Paladins, Rugby
In the summer of 2019, I left the rugby pitch and went into something completely new to me, the cockpit of the Grob G120A. While seemingly completely unrelated to an onlooker, my experience has shown me they are more related than one may think.
Flying a plane involves many things, the most important and main effort being a successful mission. This rang true on one of my first flights, as while I did my work to be ready on the actual hands and feet flying, I was ill-prepared on my radio procedures and not very confident, being more focussed on actual flying and less so on the extras. While I thought this would be relatively minor, it proved to have a far greater impact than anticipated.
“…just like the radio at the beginning of my flight impacting the rest of my flight, a bad kick off will impact the rest of the game.”
A flight begins and ends on the radio, and it is here where the tone of the flight can be made or broke. On this flight, simply put, my radio communication was terrible, and while I was ready for the actual flying, the terrible beginning to the flight got into my head and caused me to make simple errors, like overbanking in turns or poor altitude control. Something I knew how to do and was ready for went wrong just because of the radio.
Reflecting on this flight made me think of the game of rugby, as while rugby is known for the rucks and set pieces, every game begins with a less renowned part, the kick off. Some people don’t respect the kick off, but after my radio performance, I’ve realized every facet is related, and just like the radio at the beginning of my flight impacting the rest of my flight, a bad kick off will impact the rest of the game. After making this first connection from the bad, I started to think of all the good that comes from the game of rugby.
“It is the relationships and connections we make along the way that take past the game and put us ahead in our careers beyond the game.”
When it comes to being an OUA rugby athlete, we spend most of our time and focus trying to gain an advantage over the opposition. Last summer, as a part of my military training with the Royal Military College of Canada, I was flying planes in Southport, Manitoba and it was there that I discovered the real advantage we gain from OUA sports. It is the relationships and connections we make along the way that take us past the game and put us ahead in our careers beyond the game.
The flight training course is stressful, fast-paced, and a constant challenge, not unlike the game of rugby. Being able to reach out to the experience of the team and to teammates who have previously done the training helps calm the nerves and gives a deep knowledge base of the firsthand experiences of others, giving a leg up over those who go in without that resource. Being able to ask someone who just did the course what the day-to-day life is like, how a certain instructor runs a period of time, tips and tricks on certain missions, and even what to do in Manitoba on our weekends off was a priceless resource and made transition into the unknown much easier.
Fortunately, I was not the only RMC rugby player on my course. The synergy and instant connection we had made us a power duo and allowed us to tackle the challenges as a unit, which made every challenge easier as we never had to face it alone. We could get in the simulators together or study the flying manual; with our previous experience we knew how to use each other’s learning styles and just like on the field, we had no problems keeping each other accountable. It was through this that the course was not just a solo endeavour, but almost like a team effort where we both shared a common goal and worked together to achieve it. Furthermore, the benefit goes beyond the work, as there is nothing like sharing rugby stories and laughing over drinks to relax the mind and allow you to be refreshed and ready to take on the next day’s challenges.
“…the course was not just a solo endeavor, but almost like a team effort where we both shared a common goal and worked together to achieve it.”
While most of my teammates are in a similar boat and not sure where flying may take us, the rugby brotherhood goes beyond just the group you play with. It also extends to the alumni who have played before and gone down the same path we did. They have gone on to have full careers that we are only just beginning. The alumni are always glad to answer questions on their experiences. They have opened my mind to many possibilities I had never thought of and given me an idea of what my future may hold. For example, hearing some of the more interesting roles filled by some of the less flashy planes, like the Auroras or the Hercules, opened my eyes beyond only wanting to fly Griffons and widened my perspective, while also giving me the extra motivation by recounting their great time in the Air Force.
When it comes to playing rugby in the OUA, I’ve realized that not even the sky’s the limit when it comes to the advantages and opportunities it provides beyond the game.