Friday 1 June 2012

Winter Rugby !

Playing on the wing for Barnsley Rugby Union Club in the 1970s could be very frustrating. We struggled on occasions to dominate in the forwards which meant that we got very little ball coming out to the backs. We seemed to have players at stand-off who loved to kick the ball. This meant that with very little ball coming our way it was extremely frustrating to be chasing kicks all afternoon, especially when most of those kicks were going into touch. I was very grateful for shorts with pockets and I spent a lot of the eighty minutes of some games with my hands in my pockets. The lack of action meant that if you did get a running chance it was likely that, because your hands were so cold, if you didn’t get a good pass you were in danger of dropping the ball. The pockets in the shorts helped most weeks but were ineffective if it was wet as well as cold. I recall one particular game we played away at Rochdale on a freezing cold day in the middle of November. As well as the freezing temperatures it was also raining and sleeting. The team was going through a poor run of results and because of that there was very little enthusiasm for playing an expansive game. The first team pitch at Rochdale was fairly exposed and very muddy. As a consequence of our lack of confidence, the pitch and weather conditions we kept the ball in the forwards for most of the game. My only opportunity of any real action came in the second half when I chased a kick through and got to the ball first to touch it down for a try. The problem was that my hands were so numb I was not sure whether I had touched the ball. Fortunately the referee was up with play and he decided I had scored a try. The other fortunate thing was that nobody tried to pass me the ball, as I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to catch it. After this particular game it must have taken me over an hour to get warm again.

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