3XV win without 'cheating'
Old Vee's fight back in 2nd half against rusty Chiltern
Ah, the first game of the new year after a five or six week break; a time when the collective fitness of all involved is probably at its most substandard as basic cognitive functions have endured thanks solely to cheese, chocolate and alcohol. It’s both my least preferred and my best-loved game of the season. My least enjoyed for obvious reasons - it hurts, it’s invariably freezing cold to the extent that it’s best to stay in the changing rooms for as long as possible before kick-off and pretend that you need more and more parts of your body taped up and you’re in the midst of January Blues – the list could go on. However, it’s also my favourite game of the year but for more unusual rationale. Prior to being a teacher it was my genuine belief that revising for tests was just another form of cheating. ‘Revising’ up to the night before an exam would create the impression that you knew something that actually you had just remembered, this single-serving knowledge doesn’t actually suggest you are academic or intelligent, it just proves that for 24 hours you’re able to retain some information that will be forsaken in a similarly swift manner. There’s nothing truly clever about that. But, being a teacher, this way of thinking couldn’t possibly continue, but it is a nice analogy for how I still feel about training on a Tuesday or a Thursday night – it is basically a form of cheating. It is a way of almost forcing yourself to be good at rugby by practicing and that can be worryingly influential on results. It could possibly be so influential that it means that the wrong teams win or lose; the most naturally talented team might not win and that’s clearly not fair, that’s cheating. To use another analogy, we don’t want 3XV rugby to become like Formula One for example, where great drivers can be beaten by superior cars. And that is why I love this first game back after the New Year – no one has been cheating for at least the last five to six weeks. It’s a blank canvas, a clean slate, and the more gifted of the two teams will win. No one is fit, no one is prepared; it’s joyous.
But it’s also really cold and Saturday’s game was no exception. It was cold. I struggled to come out of the changing rooms for fear of the biting wind but when I did I had a little jog and realised that I had a bad back. Imagine if I had been training? I could have found out about my bad back as early as Tuesday and really done something to prepare for it, but that would have been cheating. So instead, I had a pre-kick-off massage from Andy, which was far more rousing a preparation for the game than I ever could have wished for.
To the match itself – it started a bit scrappily and actually continued that way for most of the game – it felt so real and honest, clearly no one had been cheating. There was intensity to Verulamiums’ approach from the beginning though and it made for some exciting exchanges in the early moments. To be fair, the opening score could have come from either side but credit to us as we defended well on our own line for a number of phases and managed to score when the opportunity presented itself. We raced into a 22-0 halftime lead with tries from some of the guys.
From here, I remember very little. Shortly after the halfway point I hit my head and was forced by the referee to come off. Now, I’m not saying that the two things are linked, but at this point Chiltern’s opponents started to get back in to the match. While I was in the changing rooms being kindly looked after by Cookie, Verulamiums were making a game of it, scoring three tries of their own. The game might have got scrappier, but we dug in and scored again to grab a vital home win on the trail for the league title.
Now, we might have tired a little, we might have rested on our laurels perhaps, or maybe concentration wasn’t quite there, but it feels good to know that we’re winning without any cheating. We pass without revising.
Match Report words are from LC12
Match Photos are from Ross Thompson