When it comes to hobbies, I have to admit that I am generally more at home in the world of the arts than with this sporting malarky. As you may have gleaned from these narcissistic ramblings, I don’t know a huge amount about the finer points of rugby tactics and – let’s face it! – I’m a bit of a fish-out-of-water on this well-informed website. I’m more at home with dressing rooms, intervals and directors than changing rooms, half time and coaches.
But as I dragged my sorry ass back onto the pitch this evening, to continue my inexplicable quest for rugby brilliance, I did feel I’d been touched by a little of the opera Diva spirit by one particular team-mate.
A formidable combination of height, weight, strength and dedicated training, and topped by a somewhat incongruous pair of perfectly tied little ponytails, The Diva is a pretty scary forward – I want to say front row? I think? But basically whatever the female equivalent of “double hard b*stard” is – and she was in my group. For tackling practice.
Just to reiterate for any newer readers out there, while I am not exactly Tinkerbell, I am certainly no match for this Valkyrie.
Or so I thought! The drill was pretty straightforward. The person carrying the ball had to run in a straight line past the person designated as tackler. When it came to my turn to be tackled, I was pretty scared and wearing only mouldy astro-turf boots and an ill-fitting gum-shield for protection. So on my first attempt at running past the Raging Bull of female rugby, anticipating what was about to come crashing into me, I did what any self-respecting sports hero would do – I screamed. At which point, The Diva stopped running towards me, stamped her foot and pouted, “well I can’t tackle her if she’s screaming.” And walked off. Result! Yay me! Next week I might try wearing glasses and see if that works as a survival tactic too.
I also learnt, in the very same drill in fact, that – as with the way a conductor might adapt the ‘rules’ laid down by the composer of a piece of music to suit his style – so there is a fine art to be found in the way one chooses to interpret the rules of rugby tackles. In particular (once the screaming becomes ineffectual), it seems there is a fine distinction between seriously illegal ‘tripping’ of ones opponent and, ahem, ‘wrapping’ ones legs around a much bigger player, once you’ve grabbed their waist, in order to topple them to the ground.
After the disgrace of my earlier girliness, you can imagine The Diva’s horror then, upon discovering that her status as grande dame of the tackle could be upended by a little runt like yours truly. I may need to do some work on this new dance move, but – oh yes! – with a little practice, it would seem there’s a new star in town, who’s actually not so scared of the big girls any more. And her name is Mrs Jonny!
Ha ha! We’ll see…