It began with an empty field, on a morning characterized by briskly cold temperatures. The players arrived in groups of twos and threes, emerging from the fog. Someone brought the cones to mark the boundaries. Another arrived with the oval shaped ball.
Twenty participants were divided into two teams. The rules were explained. For the officers of the 1st Armored Division staff, it was time to do battle: in a game of rugby.
Rugby, developed in the United Kingdom, is similar to football. The most significant difference between the two sports is that the ball is never passed forward. The ball can move between players laterally, or be carried or kicked toward the goal. Rugby, like football, is a team sport and relies on cooperation between players to score and win.
The Army understands that victory in combat is also a group effort.
The 1st AD is currently focused on Operation Unified Endeavor, a mission readiness exercise being held at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, to prepare for an upcoming deployment to Iraq. The informal rugby game offered the leadership a chance to improve unit cohesion.
"It's about building camaraderie," said Col. Mark Calvert, 1st AD, chief of staff. "We have to go downrange and fight as a team and play as team."
Teamwork and cooperation will be the themes that define the 1st AD's deployment as the Army transitions to a support role in Iraq. But the rugby match was also a chance to get dirty, relieve stress and focus on physical fitness.
"We will do something like this again when we get to Iraq," said Calvert. "Whether it is soccer, rugby or some other sport, the job is pretty stressful, and this is a great relief from that kind of stress."
One of the stand-out athletes for both teams was Lt. Col. William Green, chaplain. Green, a high school track athlete, scored multiple times with help from his quick footwork and sheer speed.
"It was a lot of fun," Green said, a Hilton Head Island, S.C., native. "As a spiritual leader, I think it's important to mix in physical fitness."
Physical fitness will remain a high priority for the Soldiers of the 1st AD once they deploy.
"It doesn't matter if you are in a patrol base, forward deployed somewhere in Baghdad, you have to be able to do something every day to keep your body toned because it keeps your mind sharp," said Calvert.
This work, 1st Armored Division officers scrum for esprit-de-corps, by SSG Jennifer Spradlin, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.