Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nearly thawed out

Its 6pm and I'm nearly all thawed out after watching my eldest nephew play in an under 9's rugby tournement in Wakefield today, nearly four hours from 9am this morning I stood out in the cold and occasional cold rain with bits of ice mixed in, nearly four hours and when we finally went back to the car the temperature readout said "one".

His team played three twenty minute games with lots of standing around the fields waiting for other teams to play their twenty minute games so that you could play your next twenty minute game, lots of stamping feet, blowing of hands and shivering inside five or six layers of cotton and fleece while the 9 year old lads ran around in shorts and playing shirts seemingly unaware that today has been the coldest day of winter so far.

Coach #1 gave the team talk before the first game, it went something like "I want you all to enjoy today boys, and you won't enjoy it if you're cold, so if you're not playing then put your training gear on, keep warm and just enjoy yourself, but keep warm..."

Coach #2 waited until Coach #1 had gone for a warming cup of coffee then gathered all the lads again, "Look I don't care what he said {points to coach #1 disappearing into clubhouse}, today is a Yorkshire Cup game, sod "enjoying yourself", you get out there and smash them all over the park, keep warm but bloody well win, first and foremost - we win today, ok ?" {loud cheers from the parents who all wished they'd stayed in bed as it starts to rain ice}

Its great to watch nine year olds play rugby, they've just started to tackle this year and their technique is getting more refined with every game although at least two of them in each game have to helped off the pitch crying and rubbing their shoulders or heads where they mistimed a tackle, and one kid got a busted nose, no tears though, just tip water over his face (christ that must have been cold), stuff cotton wool up his nose and shove him back on - they wouldn't do that in soccer, especially the nancy-boy grown-ups who play in the Premier League.

Rugby is just this much {holds arms as far apart as he can} a more honest game than soccer.

So in the second game I notice Benny my nephew get substituted and he comes over to me shivering and not looking very happy - our Ned is refereeing so I get Benny's sweatshirt out and put it on him, then his coat and he stands there in his shorts and boots and looks really cold and miserable.

I ask him why he came off, he rubs his stomach and says he doesn't feel very well, he's shivering a lot now so I tell him to take his boots off and we go into the clubhouse where its a tad warmer and I go to the hatch where the ladies ofthe club are selling hot drinks but they don't have any hot chocolate left, so I buy myself a coffee and tell Benny to stand near the radiator to warm up.

Then he spots someone eating a plate of chips (thats "french fries" USA), and he asks for a plate too, I remind him that he supposed to be feeling not very well in the tummy department but he says they'll warm him up so Igo and stand inline for chips and while I'm there he follows me and asks if he can have two sausages as well, I laugh and tell him that he's not feeling very well at all then and he tells me that he's feeling a bit better now.

So he has his plate of sausage and chips and we sit near a radiator for while and he must be feeling better now as he asks if they have any more hot food - for medicinal purposes of course.

I ask if he wants another plate of sausage and chips and he is sorely tempted to say yes, he struggles with his answer though in case I send him back out to play rugby, having discovered is ploy to get out of the cold, so he just asks for one of the huge muffins that they are selling on another stall which is then stuffed down his face in double quick time.

By this time the tournement is over and his team have come second and qualified for the next round so both coaches are happy and the team all troop into the clubhouse and join Benny where they are all given a token to claim a free meal from the serving hatch and I spot Benny five minutes later in the queue clutching his meal ticket for some more sausage and chips.

Our Ned isn't too pleased when I tell him that the "poorly tummy" really equated to "I'm cold and wet and don't want to play anymore" but I find myself defending the kid because I was cold and wet too and didn't want to watch anymore either so it all worked out well in the end.

Despite being frozen to death all morning, despite having to get up early on a Sunday and drive to Wakefield, I really enjoyed today, there were six teams in the tournement today, nearly 100 nine year olds playing with a hell of a lot of enthusiasm and some damn fine organisation from the clubs involved - the English Rugby Union really know how important it is to support junior rugby and no expense is spared, especially in the sausage and chips department.


Grannymar said...

Stories like this remind me of why I am glad to have a daughter and not a son.

Gary said...

Me too - then again I have two nephews too :)

On the other hand my eldest daughter was keen on horse riding when she was 9 or so years old and only stopped after she was thrown off by a spooked horse and suffered concussion (for the second time), girls and horses can be a dangerous combination.