Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
14 March 2017
A Poem for old rugby players...........
When the battle scars have faded
And the truth becomes a lie
And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.
When the last rucks well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks
Have a good hard look old son!
The melons not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight
You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?
Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?
Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s......?
With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!
Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!
It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?
Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates
Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin
Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quasimodo
With a half a thousand bruises!
Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse Sambuca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!
And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!
From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as rugby
Has been living in your blood
When you dreamt it when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your hearts still in the middle
And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course
And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again
You see – that’s the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!
Anonymous (or until someone tells me who wrote it!)
Auckland fullback Ben Atiga replaced Mils Muliaina near the end of the Rugby World Cup match v Tonga in Brisbane; sadly Atiga's only All Black appearance.
A powerful and popular rugby club in the south of France. The club has had great success in the French club championship winning eight times: in 1930, 1945, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1976, 1982 and 1988.
The 1930 ﬁnal was one of the most dramatic for the club. One of its players, 18-year-old wing Michel Pradie, was so badly injured in a qualifying match that he died that night in hospital. In the ﬁnal in Bordeaux against the Quillan team, the score was 0–0 at full-time. In extra time the Agen fullback Marius Guiral, who had replaced Pradie, seized the ball and drop-kicked a goal from 45 metres. Agen won 4–0 amid scenes of high emotion and relief. That night the president of the FFR said the dropped goal had the ‘breath of poor Michel Pradie carrying it towards victory’.
In 1945 Agen won again with two of its strongest club personalities in the team: the indomitable Albert Ferrasse (later president of the FFR) and Guy Basquet.
The 1966 ﬁnal was one to forget more than savour. Agen beat Dax by 9–8, but the game was so full of dirty play that the Minister of Youth and Sports was moved to ask ofﬁcially what the FFR intended to do about it.
The federation accordingly stepped in and suspended three participants in the game for life! (The suspensions were lifted after one year.)
In the 1976 ﬁnal Agen won again by 13–10, but only after extra time. By this time the team had René Benesis, Daniel Dubroca, and Alain Plantefol, all current or future French internationals. Its opponent that year was the formidable Béziers club, which won so heavily in the championship in that decade.
In 1984 the club was not quite so lucky. Again the two teams in the ﬁnal were Béziers and Agen. Again extra time was needed before Béziers won 3–1 on penalties after a 21–21 draw.
Agen’s most recent win was in 1988 when the prominent internationals Bérot, Lacombe, Sella, Montlaur, Berbizier, Erbani, Benetton, Gratton, Seigne and Dubroca gave the Agen team a star-studded lineup. That year it beat Tarbes 9–3. The two rival hookers, Dubroca (Agen) and Dintrans (Tarbes), captained the two teams.
More than a rugby club, Agen has been one of the strong power centres of French rugby. The elevation of Albert Ferrasse to the presidency of the FFR ensured that. The town hosted an International Rugby Board meeting
in 1989. Several internationals have been held on Agen’s home ground, the Stade Armandie, which was renovated to host games for the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups.
In 2002 Agen made a bold attempt to win their 9th French Club Championship. In a glorious final at Stade de France the game went to extra time but Biarritz won 25.22
Two of Ireland's most famous players were known as Jackie Kyle and Willie-John McBride; what were the two 'proper' Christian names each man had?