And so my quest for sporting excellence, battered limbs and general ridicule continues into its second week.
As the weather turns ever chillier and the fervour of just-beyond-our-reach world cup glory fades, it’s only the toughest, meanest, most committed rugby fans who will keep at it, battling the elements for the honour of their team. And I will be one of them, goddamit! Well. Maybe. We’ll see…
The reaction of friends and acquaintances (I haven’t dared tell any family members yet) to my new found hobby has been rather interesting. As I mentioned last week, my boyfriend is reluctantly supportive, but has now invested in a sturdy and, frankly, rather scary-looking gumshield for me as a token of his affection / fear. One female friend has chosen to join in the fun (her world cup fever is even greater than mine, as she’s Welsh and therefore thrilled with the final result), whilst others have stared blankly, asked why I would do such a thing and then enquired if it’s touch rugby or “what, like, the real thing?” Oh girls, you don’t know what you’re missing.
My sportier male friends however see me as a quaint new project, offering handy tips and advice at any opportunity and using my little pastime as a springboard for brushing up on their own kicking practice (of the ball, that is, rather than me). Boys all seem very surprised that I actually know how to throw and catch, but seven tedious years of netball do have their uses you know.
Anyway, another Sunday, another hangover – I suspect this may be a theme throughout the blog – but a very productive afternoon was spent blowing away the cobwebs in the park while one such coach / friend showed me how to kick and throw with style, grace and panache. It has not escaped my notice that being a good kicker can get you out of a whole world of trouble (silly Martin Corry just asks for a beating, but how many times do you see Mike Catt get tackled, eh?) so this is a skill I intend to hone.
I went along to practice tonight, with newly recruited friend in tow, and was triumphantly welcomed with a fanfare of Bonfire Night fireworks from the neighbouring gardens. This was very fitting, as my team-mates won their first match last weekend – putting them top of our league, despite 3 losses from 4 matches. This bizarre consequence is because all the other teams had either had their matches cancelled or did not score as many cheeky “bonus points” as us.
This points system is genius – they should use it for professional sport too. For example, you get extra points if you turn up with 15 or more players or if all your kit matches. Or if your sandwiches are cut into perfect squares. And if you don’t have enough forwards for the front row, you’re not at a disadvantage, it’s just that your scrum is ‘uncontested’ and doesn’t involve slamming into the opposition. So rather than “touch – pause – engage”, it’s more “touch – pause – amble forwards”. Brilliant!
It’s all going well so far and still no tackling practice, which is rather nice (maybe its role in rugby has been exaggerated and actually we don’t need to get that close?). Training was fun tonight, but despite the kind invitation of our team captain (oh how I laughed!), I won’t be joining in with next weekend’s match. I may be mad, and slightly over-excitable, but I still have my dignity and I’m not facing those brutes until I know how to (a) punch them back without getting caught or (b) – more importantly – kick.
I will, trusty reader, keep you updated on how this cunning plan goes…