Roll on the Rugby!

There seems to be a huge divide between those who love Rugby and those who are all for football.

In my humble opinion it is rugby all the way. Football players are paid obscene amounts of money and “dive” during matches- rolling around clutching whichever part of their anatomy they choose. This results in the match being held up for the time it takes for the paramedics to come on and revive the player.

Rugby spawns huge hulks of men who are badly paid, many of whom play on with blood streaming down their faces or broken fingers. These I consider real men! I can hear howls of protests from readers who love their footie, but each to their own! The supporters of each of the games are always keen for their team to win – the only difference is that rugby fans don’t start fighting if they lose. Or so I thought, more of that later!

Now is the time to support the English team during the Six Nations matches. The crowds are all passionate about rugby. Many fans dress up in weird costumes to back their team. Anyone who have never watched rugby before are totally bemused.

I suppose my love of Rugby started when my father took me to see my two brothers playing an inter school match. There I was sitting on the tartan picnic rug (why are picnic rugs always tartan?) when the ball landed about a foot away from me – before I could move I saw three huge hunky boys heading straight for me. My teenage fantasies started right there.

I became a fervent rugby fan and even learnt the rules, which throws any chap who watches a match with me. I am afraid I get quite over excited and very vocal much to their dismay. I can’t help it and can’t stop it even now.

I was luck to marry a chap who had two permanent seats at Twickenham – as far as I can remember you pay vast amounts of money but are allocated two seats for any match. You may correct me if I am wrong.

Any way he took me along for my first experience of International rugby. It start with a picnic in the car park where copious amounts of booze were consumed – of course one poor man would be designated as the driver, which fun a bit. So we went to our seats in a great mood. As the game got under way I got very excited and was not only vocal but waving my arms if I thought the referee was wrong. Our marriage survived but I felt that many of my husband’s friends were slightly disconcerted.

If my daughter and I could go we did- with her cringing with embarrassment. I was passionate about Lawrence Dellaglio, still am for that matter so I was shouting quite loudly every time he got near to the ball. My daughter refused to go with me again.

Weeks went by but one day I was coming back from walking my two dogs when I saw Lawrence climbing into his car – I rushed up and banged on the window for his autograph. I actually sat in his car as he rootled for pen and paper. I thanked him and rushed home with a piece of paper which said To Laura with love Lawrence. I thought she would be dancing with delight when I gave it to her, but not a bit. She was mortified at the thought of her mother harassing the poor chap. No Brownie points there. I was quite upset and wished I had asked him to write to Jane instead of Laura.

If my daughter and I watched the game at home we would be leaping up and down and screaming like banshees which sent the dogs wild. The combination of two females shouting and two dogs barking was quite loud! In fact when a man moved in next door I went and introduced myself and told him that we made quite a lot of noise if the rugby was on, luckily he was a fan too and quite understood!

However my heart plummeted into my shoes when my daughter came home from school and said she was in the rugby team which was being formed. I looked at her slight frame and her beautiful teeth and pert little nose and felt quite hysterical. But she had made up her mind and so we trotted off to the sports shop where I bought her kit. Shin pads, boots, shorts and mouth guards. If I could have bought her a padded vest I certainly would have done. The shop assistant looked at Laura with pity as I piled the necessary pieces of kit on the counter. Well he was not sending his darling daughter into the scrum.

As it turned out it was only touch rugby where the girls have ribbons on their shorts and when they are pulled off it is a point. My daughter turned out to be a stunning fly half and was so nimble none of the girls could catch her. I did however close my eyes if any of the larger girls were chasing her.

Then came the rugby World Cup and I was working on the day of the final. I spoke to my boss who luckily loved the game so just before it started I put a notice on the door that read “Watching the World Cup in the pub opposite please come over if there is anything you need”. Luckily they didn’t, the atmosphere was electric and the drinks were flowing. When Jonny Wilkinson scored that famous kick straight between the goal posts to secure the cup I thought the roof would come off, we were all hugging, kissing and jumping up with joy. I have never been kissed by so many strangers in my life!

My life changed radically when I moved to France but the only consistent factor was Rugby. There were huge televisions in the two bars and usually when we went there we. No women at all. The chaps could not believe that I understood the rules after all I was a female “rostbif” the name they use for any British! But after a while they got used to the fact that I was not at home cooking something wonderful or doing the ironing instead of watching a match.

Others did not understand my passion for rugby nor that when England lost I wasn’t crying into my Pernod. If France lost it was a different matter, one time when we beat them when I was living in France. Firstly time they syphoned all the petrol out of my car. The second time they pushed it back into a bollard. Not remotely funny.

There was a local team which my brother always attended but I was only interested in International games. However the village team managed to get into the final of the Languedoc Region cup so I was press ganged into going. We all had to wear the team’s colours of red and blue, so suitably clad we trooped off and got on a coach. It was filled with balloons, flags, whistles, claxons and banners. You name it we had it, even a lady who came and painted our faces in red and blue. It was a very merry half hour journey.

However when we arrived I was completely unprepared for what followed when we reached the stadium. The supporters of both teams were not segregated and while we waited the two hours it took to begin the match let’s just say that some of the supporters of the other team had made the most of the bar!

When the teams emerged to warm up the noise was deafening and one chap came out with flares of his team colours which he lit and then promptly dropped one on my foot leaving me with three blistering toes. Talk about a baptism by fire!

When the game started the excitement and noise mounted; the players had a punch-up on the field and the supporters started one too. I was amazed the women joined in as well, but not as amazed at my own performance!

The chap who had dropped the flare on my foot came back having consumed even more beer, cannoned into me and then an 80 year old woman sitting next to me, seriously hurting her shoulder.

So readers I hit him! It was lucky I had two brothers who taught me a lethal right uppercut. But as three of his friends approached me I prayed they wouldn’t hit me as firstly I had my specs on and secondly I am a woman. And what was my brother doing? Absolutely nothing telling me afterwards he was sure I could manage without him! Luckily they had only come to drag him away to their side of the stand. That did not stop him coming back and spraying me with beer. Charming. So there I sat smelling like a brewery, toes burning and with a rather sore hand. To make matters worse our team lost.

It was a very quiet journey home, the party laid on was like a wake – the pride of the team was in tatters. However, all things considered it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Vive le Rugby!




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Jane Buckle

My Grandfather was called Bertie Buckle. He was a journalist in Fleet Street then went to live in India and founded the Bombay Gazette. I am not certain this was true but that was what my father told me! I always wanted to be a journalist but ended up doing Public Relations and Advertising, both of which meant that I was writing Press Releases, brochures and articles about clients. I formed my own little business specialising in P.R and Advertising. Unfortunately my clients drifted away one by one. They thought young and enthusiastic girls were preferable to an old lady of 55! I then moved to France where I lived for six blissful years. I renovated and sold houses and finally I realised my dream and wrote for three magazines there. I even had my own column in one of them. On my return to England I pitched for freelance work with all sorts of magazines and papers. I did write some pieces but I was over the moon when Silversurfers accepted an article. I like to think Bertie would be proud of his granddaughter.

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