It was a completely unique day for us on Sunday when we were invited to a ‘scrimmage day’ at Hertfordshire Cheetahs (formerly Watford Cheetahs). Rivals from last season that have gone somewhat up in the league, we took all three of our teams to St Albans Rugby Club for a day of mud-wrestling.
Alright, American Football, but it really was quite the ‘rainy day’.
As the club’s media officer I was ‘off-duty’ for the day as we kept no scores, ran set numbers of plays in some cases and it wasn’t what we would call an ‘open event’ like our season games will be. Nevertheless, the support was there as it always is – wives, parents, brothers, extended family and players nursing injuries of varying degrees of severity who were kind enough to run the camera.
In the rain.
And the cold.
So I was free to observe other things, instead of my usual keep-up-with-the-score, snatch-a-quote-from-their-disgruntled-head-coach, watch-my-Peroni-intake-in-case-of-emergency situation. And what I observed was this.
Grown men getting just a pinch emotional when they stood up in a line as a team for the first time. Our Academy Head Coach taking the field as exactly that – Academy Head Coach – for the very first time, for his very first game, wondering what was going to happen and if everyone was going to be alright. And then a hilarious moment when he called their ‘jessie bluff’ and got them out of the shelter and into the tornado to finish warming up at half-time.
I’ve always said that I really love to see young people – young men especially – outside and doing something un-XBox-related. I like it even more when its pouring with rain and they carry on, and when their parents have come along to support them. When I couldn’t actually see the boys for the crowd of proud parents, it was the best moment of all.
So anyway – that mud. I was concerned that we may be sending players to our sports therapist with cases of trench foot if the senior scrimmage went on much longer than it did. From the comfort of a nice plastic chair under a covered awning, with a beer in one hand and a Jamaican beef patty in the other, I felt ever so sorry for those poor buggers. It was serious sheet icy rain and horrible wind and so much mud – and of course, someone has to wash all those jerseys too.
Not me though. Like I said – off-duty, and we not only rent our washing machine, but also the room its plumbed into.
So it was wet, and filthy, and emotional, and brilliant. There’s nothing like getting the family together, as we know, and I think we all feel like the season has properly begun now and we are so, so excited.
Hopefully the lads will all have a good wash before then, though.