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!)
Bay of Plenty sevens expert Gordon Tietjens takes his first NZ team to Fiji. They didn't win the tournament there but Tietjens stayed coach for 20-plus years
VAN VOLLENHOVEN, TOM
Northern Transvaal and South Africa
7 internationals for Sth Africa 1955–56
Acclaimed as a man who might have become South Africa’s finest wing, van Vollenhoven indeed fashioned a reputation as a great try-scoring wing – but it was for St Helen’s at rugby league.
His international rugby career was cruelly brief. After his debut as a centre against the 1955 Lions, van Vollenhoven moved to the wing and promptly became the first player to score three tries in a test in South Africa. In the second test in Australia the next year, he kicked a dropped goal – it was only the second time he had ever attempted one – but his form fell away in New Zealand and while he played eight of the first nine matches, he played only the third test.
The crew-cutted van Vollenhoven was reckoned to be inconsistent, but there was nothing unreliable about him in the matter of scoring tries. In his 19 matches on that long tour, van Vollenhoven scored 16 tries, but was such a natural and instinctive player that selectors found him difficult to fit into a team pattern.
He certainly proved them wrong, or misguided, with St Helen’s.
Fiji played its first test match is bare feet. Until what year?