And so my quest for sporting brilliance – or at least regular, athletic mediocrity – reaches the end of the year. The December blog-writing has been somewhat waylaid by a cocktail of Christmas drinks parties, excessive mince pie consumption and (unrelated, I’m sure) a rather nasty stomach bug. But you’ll be relieved to hear that my rugby playing goes from strength to strength. Using the word ‘strength’ in the loosest possible sense of course…
It’s been an interesting few weeks, and this new pastime is certainly not one I’d have predicted taking up six months ago. As I sit here in my pristine, new rugby training shirt, reluctantly purchased for me by my despairing Dad, I can’t decide if I’m discovering a brilliant secret or just submitting myself to the most pointless form of torture.
I appear to be in danger of making it past my first goal – Christmas – and on to the second challenge – the terror of a real-life match situation. Having been measured up for the new team kit (including some rather fetching, not-at-all-butch polyester post-match shirts) and with some friendlies coming up in the next few weeks, this is all too real a possibility. Bring it on? Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough? Erm… please don’t mess up my dainty little face?!
We’ll all have to wait and see what happens in the next few months (can you contain your excitement?) but in the meantime, I have been pondering what I’ve learnt in these halcyon weeks…
Firstly, tackling is not necessarily as bad as it looks. Unless you upset a burly forward, in which case she will pick on you. Secondly, shouting for the ball is very important in team sports but not something that comes naturally to me. Mainly because I still find it very amusing to watch if the screamer then fails to catch said ball and fumbles for it in a girly manner. Thirdly, laughing at burly forwards who drop the ball (see points one and two above) is not recommended.
What else? Getting muddy is a lot of fun. Kicking does not feature heavily in beginners’ grassroots rugby training. The basic principal of “run forwards, pass backwards” is not as easy as it looks on telly, especially if you used to play hockey. Breaking a nail doesn’t count as an injury. And, not so much something I’ve learned, as something I’ve come to realise – rugby is full of mysterious calls, positions and set-plays, all of which are unfathomable.
But amongst all my tidbits of new knowledge, the thing that’s impressed me most about my new found hobby, and which has quietly featured throughout this experience, is the patience, enthusiasm and dedication of our coaches.
As the four of them train us, week in week out, in the freezing cold, I’m amazed by their unwavering commitment. I can understand the desire to coach a team of juniors – the promise of youth, the feeling that you’re nurturing a new generation of rugby enthusiasts and (just maybe) star players – but to trudge along voluntarily every week for a bunch of no-hoper, adult females is just astounding to someone as self-absorbed as me.
It must be the same across the country – a small army of unsung heroes making amateur sport tick throughout the UK. To me, it embodies the spirit of sport and is certainly something I’ve come not to take for granted. So on behalf of unfit, mildly enthusiastic band-wagon jumpers everywhere, I’d like to say thank you very much to everyone who helps out behind the scenes.
And for you budding players out there – just in case you’re an armchair rugby connoisseur, who’s pondering their new year get-fit schemes – I feel I should take this opportunity to spread the word and recommend you visit the RFU’s site – http://www.rfu.com/goplayrugby to find your nearest (English) club…
Merry Christmas and a happy new year from Mrs Jonny!