New Mexico Rugby

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, March 2012

I wonder how long it would take for my fingers to go blue with frostbite. Then I wonder if it’s even possible to get frostbite in a dry, windy desert. But standing out in the middle of UNM’s Johnson Field on a cuttingly windy February night, scribbling down Patrick McBride’s words as we look out on a frenzied herd of men, half of whom are wearing shorts, I think, yes. I’m going to get frostbite while they’re playing keep away.

McBride’s rugby team, the Albuquerque Aardvarks, seems as though it’s staffed half by gladiators and half by woodland elves (the lean, muscular variety a la Lord of the Rings). Team coach Jonathan Gray runs over to shake my hand, and I can hardly wrap my fingers around his palm. He’s one of the guys wearing shorts, but because his broad shoulders tower over my head, it hardly seems strange. He must have gladiator blood. McBride, on the other hand, is slender and graceful in appearance, emphasized by his form-fitting black uniform. Gray looks like he could push over a rhinoceros, but McBride looks like he could run circles around one, and that’s kind of the point.

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