A Word In Your Ear - September 26, 2019

With the rugby world cup under way in Japan, this is a good time to remind readers  how much it takes to play the historic game so well.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 1:44 pm

Yes, it’s a rough and tumble out there, but what athletic skills its participants need! I know, after playing myself - though without any ability.

My only asset to the Welsh Borders team which took me under its wing was the thickness of my skull, that they utilised as a battering ram in scrums.

“Try to avoid any contact with the ball,” was the anxious advice of Welshpool coach Howard, after watching me enthusiastically training. I’d joined for something to do while in a dead-end job in nearby sleepy Shropshire.

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However, my skull-attack potential became clear upon my first visit, after I’d left the first-team captain concussed from a scrum encounter.

The only other place I excelled was in the clubhouse booze-up afterwards. But I still managed to lose weight and get fit, such was the rigour of their grim training nights.

When playing other rural Welsh clubs, usually upon sloping fields made further hazardous by frozen cow pats, the running, side-stepping and passing talents of fellow team-mates was stunningly impressive, particularly witnessed close up.

Most were humble hill farmers but they brought a passion and courage to the game that was matched only by their glorious singing afterwards.

Of course, the big brutes we see on the telly are all professionals and trained to perfection, but the fears, pain and challenges they face are equally awesome.

No doubt medieval battles in those Welsh hills were far more blood-curdling and terrifying than my breezy weekly encounters. But, believe me, those team endeavours took all you could offer and more while, afterwards, I felt 10-feet tall - even though my head was aching!

* For Roy’s latest novel, ‘Written In Stone’, a thriller/romance set on the Fylde, visit royedmonds-blackpool.com, Kindle or Waterstones.