A Life of Rugby: David Selby is a rugby lifer, now teaching the next generation
On a Saturday afternoon in Zimbabwe, the rugby pitch was the place to be.
Whether watching the local club teams go at it or getting to see the national team compete, David Selby remembers these Saturday afternoons well.
Selby, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe until he was 15 years old, reminisced about his favorite memory from those days – the smell of the fresh cut grass on the pitch on a Saturday.
"When you go out on that field and it had been freshly mowed, there was just a beautiful smell. It was just fresh," Selby said. "It was exciting to run out on the field and compete."
Selby, who is in his seventh season leading St. Pius X's rugby team, was thrust into the rugby culture pretty much from birth.
In Zimbabwe, Selby said the three most important things to people are God, Rugby and Family, but the order of importance was based on the person you were talking to.
"Rugby was a big part of the culture," Selby said. "It was a social event. It taught us a lot of lessons in life about discipline, structure and brotherhood. It was a huge part of the community – everyone was involved with it, everyone supported it. In school, every boy had to play in their first year so they could get introduced to the game."
Selby played his first rugby match when he was 11 years old.
At the time of his first match, Selby said he was a bit "terrified" because the guys he was playing against had been playing for a few years. But once he started tackling and gaining confidence, the love for the sport became engrained in him.
"I just fell in love with the sport," he said. "It grows in you and becomes a part of your whole DNA."
In 1980, Selby and his family moved to England where he continued to play rugby through his high school years. After high school he came to the United States on a tennis scholarship – which was his summer sport – to the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor.
Selby finished his schooling at the University of Houston, which is where he met his wife.
It had been years since he had played rugby, but when he found out he was having a son, the sport came back into his life. Just like for him in Zimbabwe, Selby introduced the game to his son David John Selby literally at birth.
"I put [his footprints] on a rugby ball," Selby said. "Then I went and got it signed by one of my favorite rugby players. I still have it, it's in a case in his room."
When David John turned nine, that's when Selby decided to get into coaching. It started at The Woodlands Rugby Club from 2007-2012 and then he moved to St. Pius X. David John graduated from St. Pius X and is currently training in Ireland to play rugby professionally.
"You have to be a student of the game," Selby said about getting into coaching. "You can't just be a player and decide you're going to be a coach. There is stuff that you're not aware of as a player and a coach sees things completely differently. As a player, you have a specific role. As a coach, you have to evaluate all the nuances of the game."