the state of things
The Finest Blog You'll Read In The Next Two Minutes
by Douglas Lindsay - 13:00 on 10 October 2011
Spent the weekend watching Two of Two play rugby. He's eleven. Weekends spent watching eleven year-olds play rugby are unlikely to qualify for the best weekend you ever have in your life. Watching your kid play rugby isn't an enjoyable experience. It's akin to your kid serving in a war zone and you getting to sit on the sidelines and watch while he goes out on patrol in an area controlled by insurgents.
Kids drop like flies. The full brutality of rugby is laid bare on the battlefield of small boys. Every couple of minutes or so some kid or other stays down, lying completely inert, or else drops like a stone, crying out for all the world like some Death Eater has just blasted him with the cruciatus curse.
The school we pitched up at on Saturday had the ambulance pre-booked and already in attendance. The Festival of Small Boy War that we went to yesterday had more medical staff on hand than rugby coaches or referees. This isn't a Daily Express-esque Health & Safety gone mad situation. This is life at its most basic and brutal, and utterly demanding that there are a series of health professionals in close attendance. On neither occasion was the air ambulance present, but that was probably only because it was in some other part of the west country ferrying some kid with another player's boot surgically implanted in his eye socket to the RUH in Bath.
When one's kid is playing cricket, you pop along with a hamper full of wine and olives and bread sticks, and sit out on a warm summer's evening on a patch of grass, politely applauding both sides and hoping that your kid comes off with neither his skin nor ego too bruised. The cricket ball, as a weapon of war, certainly has the potential to make a kid's brain explode with a direct hit, but generally any time they're anywhere near the wicket they're wearing a helmet, and cricket injuries are the exception rather than the rule.
Rugby is played on freezing cold Sunday mornings, the rain teeming down, and the wind whipping brutally in off the sea, even if the sea is forty miles away. And, no matter how well your kid is playing, or if his team is on top, there's no fun in it. You don't go along there to enjoy the rugby or the atmosphere. You go along to be there for your son when he gets his face kicked in, several bones broken, or has the unfortunate bad luck to leave one of his eyeballs attached to the stud of some vicious little nipper's boot.
Injuries are not the exception, but the inevitability. It's going to be a long seven years of senior school.
Nevertheless, there was one small shining moment of light yesterday. With two minutes to go of one of the games, the opposition had the put-in at a scrum about ten yards out from our try-line. They were a try behind, so had two minutes to draw level. Their fly-half exhorted his team mates with the words: Let's make this the best two minutes we've ever played in our lives.
Holy crap. How many American TV shows have you been watching, son? It would have been nice if everyone on the entire field, players, parents, referees, coaches and all attending medical staff, had stopped at this point, and looked at the young chap in order to give him the benefit of a raised eyebrow. Sadly this didn't happen, allowing him to then tell his forwards to push harder than they'd ever pushed before, as though they were about to collectively give birth to a giant eight-headed baby monster.
The next two minutes unfolded rather mundanely, with no further scoring action. I doubt it was the best two minutes that anyone had ever done anything in their life. What on earth is he going to say to them when he's playing a game of some importance?
- Come on guys, let's make this the most explosive two minutes in all of time and space.
- Let's play rugby in a way that resonates down the centuries, makes empires fall and changes the public's perception of Sunday morning sport.
- We stand on the threshold of history. Stand fast men, and prepare for battle.
- Many of you will die here tonight, but it will be such a death!
Sadly, he will likely say none of these, but will continue to get his lines of encouragement from episodes of Hannah Montana.
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