talking… optional – yarsPosted: July 20, 2013
The silence of rugby always intrigued me. In games only the captain could address the referee without incurring a penalty. Save your breath for running my teammates advised. They challenged us to play like the Welsh National Team – silently, even the captain only addressing the referee in a whisper. It didn’t make sense to trash talk ( an outlandish idea back then ) since everyone was only one tackle away from being unprotected at the bottom of a pile.
So we talked, but it was always of strategy, or “with you”, “on your left.”
For our last rugby match in England, five games in ten days with no snap left in our legs, we were a step slow. Our opponent was tough, they had seen us beat their two local rivals and they came out hard. Just a few minutes into the match their fullback sucker punched me in the jaw when I ran by, the lone referee looking away.
I gingerly made it over to the sidelines where the doctor ( who had bet heavily on us ) popped it back in, patted me on the butt and said cheerily “Now get back in there and keep tackling!”
Our legs were heavy, they were fierce tacklers, and I was pissed. “Bruce – kick up and unders, we’ll get it.” Pauly, built like a five-foot-eight inch incredible hulk, and hulk like impervious to pain nodded. Time and time again Bruce kicked the ball forty yards high and twenty yards down the middle of the field where only their fullback could field it with Pauly and I racing down. To let it drop meant we picked it up at speed, to catch it was to let one or both of us drive him into the turf.
If I hit him with my shoulder as hard as I could and drove him earthward, Pauly’s hits smashed him. Still he was brave and took the beating and they held the lead with just moments remaining. Once more Bruce lofted a high arching kick, the brown Gilbert ball floating against the September sky as Pauly and I sprinted toward their fullback who stood waiting, one eye on us, one on the gently descending ball.
Maybe it was the sun, but the ball floated down, bounced off the fullback’s chest and Pauly scooped it up in stride and stormed over the goal with the winning score.
Through the whole match, their fullback and I never exchanged a single word.
The Moral: Sometimes words are unnecessary
YARS – yet another rugby story