Rugby Union is a wide spread and popular game, when I’m on an away weekend I try to take in as many games as I can. I originally booked my flight to Dublin to take in the Parliamentary game.
I sit next to a very charming MP at Allianz Park and we’ve chatted about me writing an article about the Dallaglio Foundation, that’s in the pipeline. We also spoke about the fact that often on international weekends the 2 ‘opposing’ parliaments play each other.
I met Mark Pawsey – MP for Rugby! – at the Hitz Rugby Awards. He is I believe Chairman of the Commons & Lords Rugby Club. He also happens to be one of my older brothers’ best friends. What a small world! We chatted about the game planned for Dublin and I decided I’d book my flight on the chance I’d get a ticket for the big game.
My lovely Twitter friend Joanne, was kind enough to pick me up and take me to Trinity College where the game was taking place. I arrived in time to see a few of the Irish players warming up – they looked keen!
The players arrived onto the pitch just after the pouring rain had made its entrance – a comment came that Ireland would be a lovely country if you could put a fe*****g roof over it! That did raise a few laughs!
Now there are different rules for this style of rugby – Ideally the players should all be over 35 – you aren’t allowed to kick the ball once outside of the 22 and the ball must be passed after 15m has been run. Oh and the scrums are uncontested.
That was wholly sensible as I think maybe the over 35 thing hadn’t quite been adhered to by either side. There were several opportunities for a speedy player to fly halfway up the pitch to score!
I was proudly informed that Dr Leo Varadkar the Minister for Health was playing for the Irish Dail team – he made a good show throughout.
The first half was a slightly haphazard affair – with that bees round a honey pot style of rugby appearing again. Running rugby wasn’t overly on the Agenda. However a try was scored by the Irish James Murphy surging over the line.
It’s difficult to write too much about the game without a team list – but I can comment that both teams not only enjoyed the game, but also competed and wanted the win.
The English lost their Fly Half early on with a head knock – he was contemplating returning to the pitch but was quite clearly not too well so was persuaded to stay away. I think that factor was a key one when considering the final result.
It was interesting seeing the alternative rules in action, seeing someone storm away only to have to seek a team mate to pass to – on several occasions that didn’t happen and so the attacking team was penalised.
Ireland scored a further 3 tries, John Black and Ray Bell getting credit – the 3rd try scorer I apologise to, no one wanted to share his name. 3 of their 4 tries were converted by Eric Conway.
England added a single try – scored by a man with no name and similarly converted. This took the final score to Ireland 26 England 7 – in effect I know – would the afternoon be the same result?
I have to mention one Irish player – a certain Pat Coakley – he is 77 years old! He captained his team for the first time on 11 November 1951 and still pulls a shirt on to play rugby. He’s a testament to staying fit and alert. A man I’d like to know an awful lot more about.
With current advice being to make changes to your lifestyle even in the smallest of ways Pat Coakley could be the poster boy for the campaign.
What was wonderful about the whole affair was that on the whole the game was played with great spirit – oh including the shot glasses of Port to warm the cockles at half time! There was a lot of laughter and it was great to see some of the friendships that have been formed over the years.
The final whistle came and the players gathered for the traditional end of game photo – by this point it was hailing, the snowing so I headed into the warmth for a cuppa! Before heading off to game 3 for the weekend – the Big One!