In the US, we would go out to a field, stick up some goal posts, paint some lines and play. Not to say we didn’t have fit and talented guys, but it was the spontaneous Americans against the formal English here. On tour in in England, the teams had clubhouses with manicured grounds and locker rooms. Instead of stretching and then kicking off, we warmed up running in place inside the locker room, counting as our spikes sung against the concrete floor. In the other locker room we could hear them doing the same so we chanted louder, poured out onto the field ran to position and the match began.
The first play Paulie, who looked like a terrorist and played just as ferociously, slammed down their runner. They tried to sneak in their fullback in the line to have an overload and I caught him from behind punched the ball out, wrapped my arms around him, arched my back and rode him like a body board face first into the ground. They weren’t going to run on us.
But rugby is two games, the grinding, mauling, smashing of the scrum, and the slashing long runs, cutting and chasing of the backs. This match settled into they kicking the ball down-field until close where their scrum tried to smash it over for a try ( touchdown ) and us attacking every time we had the ball, ripping up long runs.
I was a back, this was great fun – we had the lead with ten minutes left in the match and I glanced into the scrum. Kenny P_ the farm-boy prop-forward with shoulders as wide as two men had tape wrapped crookedly over his forehead, he looked like a pirate sliced him with a cutlass. Jerry D_ ( of the yard of beer ), bled from a cut under his eye and every scrum player of ours was bleeding.
It was a fierce last ten minutes. When the whistle blew, we led by a single point and victory on foreign soil was ours. No matter what happened the tour was a success.
After the game, rugby players form a line, and walk through and shake hands with every other player, and I still take pleasure in how stunned they were to lose after they had mocked us before the match.
The Moral: Take every opponent seriously, anything else just adds fuel to the fire
YARS – yet another rugby story