Women’s rugby – that takes me back

Was pleased to see in the Independent a very decent piece on the England women’s rugby captain, which only occasionally slips into the “gosh, girls are really playing” mode.

Catherine Spencer’s comment about not being recognised without mud in her hair takes me back to my rugby days – well my one rugby season.

I played for the really-not-very-good University of New England (Australia) team, which only made up the numbers with some “friends of players” who’d been talked into it without wanting to be there. Which meant when you got to the wings there were some players really not at all keen to tackle anyone.

I was No 8, a position for which I was way, way too slow, but we had a surplus of second rowers, which was probably where I belonged.

The mud line reminded me of my sporting fame moment when the local television stringer – who’d worked for me when I’d been news editor of the local daily paper – turned up to film a game, and was absolutely delighted to film me at the end of it, with a face as red as a desert sun, and hair that had reached the indescribable stage. (I do hope that tape has been safely confined to history, since I was also so high on adrenaline I was probably incoherent.)

Probably fortunately, I’ve forgotten the score of our biggest thrashing, when we played Newcastle Uni, which actually had Australian team members playing for them. One of them was a centre, who I recall only from the back, chasing her fruitlessly down the field…

File under nostalgia…

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