December 2008

Getting the tag

Originally uploaded by Pat and Amy’s pics

The first weekend that we were living in Rochestown, we were told to show up at the Rochestown Inn (our local) to watch The Match. Munster, the region of Ireland that we live in, was playing in the European Rugby Cup (also called the Heineken Cup) that night, and we were assured that it would be a great night of rugby. It was standing room only in the pub and we had no clue what was happening during the game itself, but it was electric and we were hooked.

We found ourselves watching rugby on television whenever we could, and eventually had a vague grasp of the rules. Enough of a grasp that when a work colleague asked me and Pat if we would like to join a tag rugby team, we jumped at the chance. We were assured that most of the team had never played rugby either, and that we would be in good company in regard to experience – or the lack thereof.

Fortunately we had several weeks before the league started up in which to train and get a grasp of the rules. Our first two nights of training happened on black asphalt with no lighting and a basketball hoop to dodge around. Amazingly no one was injured, although I expected to run into the basketball hoop pole at any moment.

We were ready to play! Or, at least Pat was ready to play. Pat and I joined four team mates on the pitch for the first play of our first rugby game, and I was going for an opponent’s tag when the referee’s whistle started to tweet. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I realized pretty quickly that it seemed to be my fault. The ref told me that I would not be allowed to play as long as I was wearing eyeglasses, despite the fact that I had received written approval from one of the league organizers. I was crushed, and sadly we lost the game. Pat had a brilliant game, though. He made several great tags and even made an interception.

Even though I have a history of failed efforts with contact lens wear, I went to SpecSavers that weekend and got fitted for contacts. I was determined to play, and was hopeful that wearing contact lenses two hours a week would not ruin my eyes. It worked, and I was in the thick of things again. In our second game, I got the ball on our first play and ran like mad. All was going well until I realized I was running full tilt into an opponent. This would be okay if we were playing regular rugby, but this was tag rugby, a bit like flag football in the States, and contact isn’t allowed. After I had mowed her over I heard the whistle tweet again. This time I knew it was my fault, but at least I didn’t get sent to the sin bin again. It was a great game that ended in a 16-4 victory for our team. I can’t claim to be the winning factor for our team, though, since it was the only game we won that wasn’t by forfeit.

Some of you may know of my susceptibility to injury. I’ve been known to fall down for no apparent reason, sort of like those weird goats that pass out when they hear a loud noise. Amazingly, I made it through the whole season with only one badly bruised knee. Despite being a non-contact sport, not all of our team mates made it through the season unscathed. One collision ended in a badly sprained elbow, and last year one of our team mates broke her arm while playing. A friend also told us of a woman who shattered her kneecap while playing earlier this year.

The season ended last night, and despite our many losses there was definite improvement in our playing skills as the season progressed. Who knows? Maybe we’ll actually win two games next season.


Gone pear-shaped

One hears this phrase fairly often over here. It would be the American equivalent of: Everything has fallen apart or It’s all gone to pot.

 According to Mark Evans of the Irish Examiner, the phrase originated in the 1940’s. It is thought to have been used “among the British air force. Trainee pilots had to perform difficult circular loops, which would inevitably end up as pear shaped.”