Category Archives: Outpour

Sieval Outcry

Emotional outburst against a backdrop of firey fuelled righteous indignation

Against a plan that wasn’t there for a source that isn’t provided

And yet still you burn and burn and burn

Against the tide of injustice only you can percieve

Fighting the inequality of life amidst the stain

Of your equally unwarranted vile and vitriol.

And yet, do me a favour?

Keep it to yourself.

See how you like living with it.

Just try it.



Options paper: 2.5 hours

It’s been a tumultuous time of decision consequence and adventure.  Time has spun so fast, a fantasy round-a-bout of facts and fiction but now I would like to get off.  The dizzying tilt of reality is starting to make me feel nauseous and claustrophobic in this shell and I need to find air to breathe.

Who knew that coming back could made this hard?  Thank the God’s I didn’t think to try taking this on on top of the post-operative effects but when did I stop realising how much I had on my shoulder.  And how light could I feel without the weight of responsibility not grounding me but driving me into the ground.

Thing is, this is all in my head and tonight it is coming out in fits and starts and explosion of incoherence. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will sit down and lay this out in a cold, hard, clear, practical harsh-light-of-day kind of way.  And I will piece it back together.

And I don’t care whether you like what you see or not.

Dirty words and backwards glances

Do not talk to me about birthdays.  In my life they have become something of a taboo to me and I don’t enjoy celebrating them.  Not in that fake way people have of saying ‘I hate my birthday’ and then throwing themselves a massive party with on sight admirers/arse-kissers to tell them how amazing they look and they can’t believe their age.  I just plain don’t enjoy them and this one will be no exception.

You see, at some point, in the not too distant future, I shall be approaching a milestone in my life.  It probably won’t seem like much of a one to many of you.  Perhaps you’ve past it and can now look back on it with that wonderful tool of hindsight or maybe it doesn’t or didn’t bother you and you sailed through it with ne’er a backwards glance.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to do that.  In fact when I stop to think about it sometimes I find I lose part of the definition of myself.

For God’s sake, I’m not dying or losing a limb; I’m just turning 30!  But to me thirty is a dirty word.

Ten years ago I was turning 20 and could not be more chuffed about the whole situation.  The 20’s was the age when people take you more seriously as you’re no longer a teenager, the age you stopped getting asked for ID for booze and fags, the age when you got a proper job, had a proper relationship and basically started your ‘proper life’!  In 2002 I was ready to be 20 and looking forward to the ensuing chaos it would bring.  And boy did I bring it.

In the last ten years I have had four relationships, varying in length from eight months to five years, one of which turned into an engagement. [Obviously that did not end in the textbook fashion, moving on…]  I have also lived at ten different addresses, studied three different courses at two different universities and worked in 12 different places, nine of them being pubs or bars.  I have drunk an inordinate amount of alcohol and probably regurgitated several times my own body weight.  I have also gained a degree, a post-graduate diploma, an NVQ, numerous work related qualifications, a great many friends, several new members of my ‘chosen family’ and thankfully only a few enemies – that I am aware of.

All in all, I’ve been rather busy.

But now, this great and awe-inspiring decade is coming to an end and I am finding myself loathed to leave it behind for a number of reasons but the first of which being the most simple; age.

Thirty has always seemed like the first negative big milestone.  Before this everything you reach has a purpose, a landmark to show you how far you have come and how far you still have left to go, but with 30 it feels as though the safety net has been pulled out from under me.  No more child-like excuses or reasons of immaturity or not knowing.  When 30 years of age are attained, life must be signed, sealed and organised because suddenly you’re nothing but an adult.

The funny thing is if I really think about it, I still don’t get taken seriously by those older than me now, I got asked for ID for alcohol less than 4 months ago (the last time I went out drinking) and I am still unaware what it is I want to do with my life.  In this respect I can either be reassured that a few months will not change reality as I know it, or conclude that I have not travelled very far at all in my latest decade.  Trying to go with the former…

Thirty is described as a rite of passage, particularly for women and if you pick up any magazine now it will begin to tell you how 30 is the new 20, 40 is the new 18 and I’m sure sometime soon, about the  new 90 which means you can revert to your old habits of liquid foods and incoherent babble.  Actually, in some cases that is not too far from the truth.

A rite of passage is it?  Really??  That’s what 30 is supposed to be.  Perhaps once upon a time when you were married before 20, kids before 21 and tied to the kitchen sink between every child dropped!  But now in the constantly evolving and revolving society we have, to be old is to be beyond your use, have lived past the sell-by date and to be taking up space that others could exploit more fully.  No longer in the pigeonhole of ‘youth’ but not high enough up to be middle-aged, geriatric, retired or solvent, to be 30 is to be relegated to the back of the shelf and left there to fester because it is no longer necessary for society to care what it is you’re doing; you’re on your own.

I am daunted by the prospect of looking back at my life and seeing what I haven’t yet done and why it has not come to fruition only to be greeted with a plethora of my own mistakes and self-imposed misfortunes.  I am also unwilling to share these thoughts with anyone ‘real’ because they would surely try and persuade me otherwise and there is only one thing worse than having to face up to all the dumb-ass things you’ve done that have led you to this very point you’re not all that keen on standing on.  And that’s having an audience while you do it.

So instead, you get my neuroses and my near-hysterical ramblings as I fret about the looming date which is in point of fact, a date.  A day like any other, one that I will to all intents and purposes try to ignore as I do most years and will pass with no more pomp and fanfare than those surrounding it.  In my mind thought it may be a millstone rather than a mile, it will not be a culmination of my failures and foibles; a buffet spread from my silly mistakes and bad choices made at an age when I was too adolescent to spot them and too shallow to care.  It will be just a day, shared with others and liable to pass whether I wish to celebrate its coming or hide from its looming presence.  And yet, even knowing all of this, I cannot shake the feeling that it is a turning point and should be treated as such.

I have lived my life up until this point with a carefree abandon that has amounted to very little to show but a great deal to remember.  I have memories I will treasure forever and those that I wish I could tear out of my mind but instead will look and learn from, knowing I couldn’t be who I am now without them.  I may be young in some eyes but I am old in others and right now I am in-between decades; not quite finished with one, just not ready to step onto the next.  But perhaps that is the point.  Without the use of these landmarks, where would be the perspective of knowledge and the hindsight to see how well you really did?

Perhaps I have been looking at 30 all wrong and actually it is not a milestone to pass, but one to look back on and see in the distance; a signpost to the way forward of the person I am still to become.

And yet even knowing all of this to be a distinct possibility I cannot shake the feeling that life is creeping up behind me, ready to jump out with wrinkles, cardigans and bitter envy of the youth as well as contemptible intolerance of their unappreciative nature of what they possess.  I think I would do ‘old’ well provided I could do it my own way and in my own specific style.  But not now.  Because 30 is not old; it’s not even half way there!

Now all I need is to understand that is the case and let time flow on by; once a second, every second as it has been doing for millennia, and will continue to do so long after I have been forgotten.  And perhaps just a gentle reminder once in a while that, milestones are important yes, but also personal.  What one person celebrates, another may dismiss as wholly unimportant.  So if I choose to throw a mental tantrum about something I can no more affect than the movement of the Earth, then I only have myself to blame.

All I can affect are my own actions and emotions and maybe, just maybe, if I can get those under control, I can sail through this transition smoothly with the wind at my back.  Because it’s going to happen, whether I’m ready or not.

So, enough moping and maudling, it’s time to start looking forwards and brushing away the needless mind blocks I have subconsciously been erecting.  Time to start planning for a new decade’s memories with optimism, even if I may need subtle reminders of it now and again…

Besides, if this next decade is anything like the last one, now may be the time to start putting up the buffers.  Because they’re sure as hell going to know about it once I’ve arrived.

Security Servicing

Secrets are as essential to life as breathing, love, sex, cider and caffeine the morning after the night before – not necessarily in that order – don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise. However, I am talking about the kind that you keep to yourself because it’s your business, or the sort that saves someone the horrendous feelings of inadequacy because they don’t need to know what someone else thought of their dress sense after the fact as examples. This kind keeps the world spinning on its slightly dysfunctional axis.

The ‘I-had-an-unhappy-childhood-right-up-until-I-set-fire-to-the-family-home-with-all-the-occupants-inside’ or ‘I’m-shagging-your-sister-behind-your-back’ kind definitely do not make the world go round. More, come to a grinding halt, spitting out nuts and bolts along the way.

So let’s stick to the first kind for the purposes of this blog.

I am sure we all have a stalwart companion to whom you could disclose your darkest secrets without even a flicker of fear that they could be breached. However the fact of knowing someone elses secrets is addictive and that is why we will all also someone who cannot keep a secret for love nor money but who always seems to get the best gossip. And this is because there is something liberating in revealing secrets.

It’s like stepping out of the carefully created public mask and revealing just a flash of the hidden person underneath that only a few people are privileged to see. Basically I think I’m accidentally comparing it to streaking. Yeah, streaking.

So on that note I fancied a quick flash in the pan myself (if you will) and here are a few things I don’t think many people know at all.

  • Soft touch

I may well be the world’s most cantankerous waker-uperer and possibly the least sympathetic person I know to common or garden problems brought on by self-inflicted stupidity in my expert opinion [see previous post for exceptions] but I have a small hidden part of me that I keep deeply buried and has had little reason to surface recently that adores romance.

Oh yes, out loud I may scoff and rely on practicalities over emotion, find the gift of flowers inconvenient because I kill the damn things within days and scare off grown men when they don’t behave while drunk. But underneath I harbour a guilty passion for surprises, gestures and being swept off my feet.

The majority of the time I would probably find it incredibly annoying and untimely but once in a while, I would like to be swept away in something other than a wave of crashing banal reality.

  • Girly Girl

Jeans and a hoodie are my staple weekend wear and they are the clothes I am the most comfortable in which is important when the weekends are mostly spent at one rugby club or another, either working or watching.  This also suits the fact I was graced with rugby playing legs and horse rider’s arse.  I am somewhat of a self-confessed low maintenance gal but on occasion I like to get dressed up to the nines, fling on some bling and sparkle in the room rather than fading into the background as all good staff can.  I actually like one or two dresses!

  • Wine not

I am not averse to quaffing wine with dinner, I have a glass with the girls on nights in or out and when visiting friends for a housewarming or dinner party I always come armed with a bottle.  Its only polite isn’t it?

Except for the fact that I don’t like wine!

I’ve been told I will grow into it, it’s something that needs to be cultivated, different palates prefer different tastes; I just need to find mine and a whole host of other ridiculous things that all amount to the same idea.  I’m being given different excuses to put something in my mouth I don’t like and actually, I already know isn’t that good for me!

In this respect, I think I should apply the same logic to wine drinking as I do to oral sex.   If I don’t like it, don’t expect me to do anything with it except politely decline.  [Added onto that could of course be if you insist then you have to be ready to accept the fact I may well spit it back in your face but perhaps that’s taking the imagery too far…]

If I’m going to go down with liver disease and chronic cirrhosis then it’s going to be with a drink I actually like. Bring on the cider!

  • Solidity

I have been told by several people in the last couple of years, I come across as hard.  I think this is almost something I deliberately project at times so no-one can see if I’m feeling weak or vulnerable but possibly I have done this a little too well!  I like my cover of hardness; it’s soothing to me to know that people think they can’t get in if I don’t want them to, even if I know that may not be strictly true.

Strictly true?  That’s pushing the point a bit!  I over think, over analyse and over complicate things in my head before they’ve even got as far as far as the vocal chords but fortunately, a few years of practise has taught me the ‘think-it-don’t-say-it’ school of working and I have mostly perfected the ability to not look like I’m chewing a wasp when someone tells me something I don’t want to hear or when I feel something other than ‘fine’.  I think I need to reign in my reigning in on this particular subject but it’s hard to break a habit; especially one you’ve adopted deliberately.

There!  I almost feel a catharsis coming over me now I have laid bare my inner most feeling and desires…  Ok perhaps not but that’s about as much secrecy as I think I’m going to disclose right now and who know?  What I think of me may not be the opinion everyone else shares but I’d like to think I know myself well enough to be right.  If I were an onion and they were simply parts of the brown outer layers, it’d still be a step closer to the core.

I guess what I’ve been thinking is that people need secrets.  They keep the world spinning and the pages turning, without them the relationships we make would take no discovery and the paths we tread would be paved with monotony.

But it’s always worth remembering that just as you guard your secrets, everyone else has their own, and that perhaps sometimes all you see is not all there is to be seen.  Just because someone allows you to peek between their pages doesn’t give you the right to flick to the end.  You take all the fun out of the journey and ultimately ruin a good story.

A word of warning to those hell-bent on uncovering the truth no matter why it was hidden, be it physical, practical, emotion or literal.  Secrets are exciting to discover, but once they’re out there, there’s no putting them back.  When you get through all the layers of the onion, ultimately all you have is a handful of onion layers and eyes full of tears.

101 Things I Cannot Do With My Broken Back

Ok, so maybe it’s just the seven but that’s how it feels sometimes when I’m struggling to get up from a chair that a 90 year old would have sprung out of, raced over to the Viennese whirls and got back into in the time it would have taken me to lever my arse millimetres away from the cushion. Basically this thought has been occurring to me on and off for the last few months while I have been recuperating from spinal fusion in December and has made me realise just how much I truly took my back for granted.

  1. Sitting:

So let’s start with the basics. When you go to sit, you either a) find an appropriate spot, lower yourself gently in and adjust yourself accordingly, or b) find an appropriate spot and using the arms available as guides or strategic ‘bum sweeping’ motions, clear the area for perching.

If you have problems with your back, a) there is no appropriate area, only inappropriate positions, and b) perching is not an option. You have landing, falling, crumpling and, my favourite, collapsing into seats. Never perching.

When sitting down during a normal course of events as I understand it, the body’s core tightens and as the quads contract and the hamstring elongates, the legs bend and the stability behind these muscle groups allows for a steady progress down to the chair. Now imagine that instead of your core muscles, you have an inflatable ring with the plug missing. That’s the visual there folks!

  1. Getting up (or down again for that matter):

Moving from sitting to lying or vice versa is all par for the course for those of us who go to bed at night and rise in the morning n’est pas? Wrong! Normally I would throw myself in or out of bed with abandon – my own I hope you note – as I would be running late or longing to sleep.

However, without the use of a fully functioning back this is no longer an option. I must now sit/fall (see previous) onto the bed and from there use a vertical pivot to simultaneously swing my feet up and my head down, and from there I can roll onto my back if I fancy a change of scenery from anaglypta to artex. I feel like a driver with his hands stuck at ten to two 20 years after he’s passed his test.

So perhaps it’s more understandable that, having been able to do the former for many years I sometimes forget and yesterday was one of those days. I simply threw my leg under me and went to collapse on the bed, but as I realised part way down that I wasn’t to do this and that the landing would hurt I also realised that there was nothing I could do. It was at this point that I realised a third thing.

It is not the act of hurting yourself, nor the knowledge that you did something stupid to result in your injury that pains you. More the knowledge, before the pain has happened that you’re going to hurt yourself, there will be no one else to blame so yes, it is all your own fault.

Oh, and the pain itself.


  1. Bending over:

I suppose there’ll be a fair few of you (if you read this) that find this one funny. Well I’ll tell you something for nothing sunshine; it’s bloody not!

You probably bend in all sorts of places like the knees, the hips, the waist and have a variety of poses you can put yourself into. Best stop that sentence before it really becomes an erotic thought pattern in your mind that I have accidently imbedded.   Moving swiftly on…

‘Not too much to bending is there?’ I hear you cry; well I shall tell you that in fact bending is one of the most difficult things I have had to do since surgery. I’m sure we all know that you should bend at the knee not the back and that bending and twisting can cause damage. But what is not reported on is the fact that we still bend an awful lot in our lives regardless of whether we pick up objects with straight legs or lever ourselves out of bed in the mornings.

Take hair care for example. When drying your hair, or even wrapping it up in the towel straight out of the shower, the first thing most girls do is toss their hair forwards. This has become something of a nemesis to me.

Upon finishing my shower, I reach for my towel and then take a moment to pause and think about just how easy this was before and understand why on earth it should be so difficult now. Then, once I have finished berating myself for being a pillock I gingerly bend forwards, keeping my hands firmly on my – fairly slippery – thighs.

It is about this point that I realise that the towel I have bunched up on my right quad is never going to reach my hair unless I loosen my death grip and bring it up there

It is now that I must rely on the pesky aforementioned core muscles. I honestly did not understand quite how much I relied on them until it seems mine have been sliced through at the back. Well, alright maybe I’m exaggerating a touch but it certainly feels that way when I’m trying to hold my upper body up whilst bending. If I did not have my hands clamped to my legs as supporting struts, I believe my body would fold completely in half, thus rendering me not only painfully incapacitated but also quite unable to get myself out of this position. So I have two choices: 1) drip dry, or 2) brace my back against something while I lean.

Have you ever tried leaning your arse against the arctic cold of wall tiles after taking a 15 minute near scalding shower?? Nemesis!

  1. Running:

Would seem fairly self-explanatory given the above, but I defy any of you to exit a hastily double parked car in the pouring rain to catch the post and not jog to the box. Turns out Pavlov was right; years of imprinting do override basic common sense.

I managed two steps before my body reminded me that I shouldn’t be doing this. It wasn’t that it hurt because it didn’t (then). What it did do was totally seize up mid-stride and left me waddling my way to the post box in a style vaguely reminiscent of Kryten.

My mum fortunately had the good grace not to laugh out loud as I got back in the car.  She was thinking it though.

Following this train of thought, I have come to the conclusion that I should become an avid Pelican crossing user for the foreseeable future as it is unlikely in my current state I would be able to avoid being flattened by a speeding vehicle.

Ah who am I kidding? In my current state it is unlikely I could avoid being hit by a damn biddy buggy!

  1. Standing

You would have thought this would be the option left to me considering all the others I have discounted but you would be wrong my friend. I did not know how much standing tires you out! Having worked in bars for years this realisation has really astonished me. I’m used to 14 hour shifts of smiling and nodding and acting like the vacuous airhead most people like to have around because they won’t know what’s going on but can still provide some practical scenery. A note for another time, I digress…

Standing isexhausting.The only way I can think to describe the feeling I get in my back after 30 minutes standing is that my lower spine is starting to collapse back in on itself. Horrendous imagery but that’s what I get, and when I get that feeling…

  1. Sex:

You’re taking the proverbial right??

  1. Sleeping:

This is actually a new one on me. I am by nature a side-sleeper so when I first had the operation and was told that I needed to sleep on my back because it would be more comfortable I was not impressed. Sleeping on my back has never been comfortable and I often feel pressure on my chest and body when I try. However, for the first night I did sleep on and off on my back. By the second day I was not only in pain and grumpy from being ill, I was tired.

I do not believe I inherently have the capacity for evil in me under normal circumstances. Except when I have been denied sleep. Whether it is from not sleeping or being woken up believe me; a woman scorned has nothing on me.

So I have been sleeping on my side ever since and just bearing with the pain for the first 30 minutes when I wake up. I feel it has been a fair compromise. This was up until Sunday when I decided that I had gone as far as I could with reduction of medication which I have been doing gradually for the last three months and today was the day when I would start to do without the low dose opiates.

Low dose my tile-frosted arse.

During the day I have been ok, some pain but I have other options for pain relief.  But at night it’s like I’ve been possessed!  After a few hours sleep almost like a convulsion wakes me up in 15-20 minute intervals, but it’s not actually an external reaction. My body seems to have been having internal shudders and the feeling of them at 4am stopping you every time you close your eyes from drifting off is enough to drive a normal person insane.  In fact, I no longer feel normal.

Fortunately it is lessening and last night I got to sleep at 1:45am and woke up at 7:45am. Intersperse that with a few waking shudders throughout the ‘night’ and that is my sleep at the moment.

The day I get clear of these damn pills is the day I am going to touch my toes, go for a run, throw myself into bed (possibly my own) and test out my renewed capacity for sleep like you’ve never seen!

That’s pretty much the list for now. I’m sure there’s more but I’m boring myself with moaning. On the plus side, if this makes just one person realise how much their back is worth and how lucky they are to currently have a fully functioning one then don’t gloat.

I may not be able to make it out the damn chair in time but I’m a crack shot with a shoe.

With all the time I’ve had to practise; just try me.

Sit on my Facebook

That was the title of my Masters thesis.  Admittedly it failed due to my general demeanour of ‘it’ll do’ rather than ‘this is the best thing I have ever written and I shall go over it twice more just to make sure’.  Oops.  However the theory is still something I truly believe in and one day when I have the time, money and inclination, I shall finish it.  Having written my degree dissertation about Harry Potter I am not averse to somewhat unconventional or even controversial topics of exploration.

The idea behind it was that we’re gradually becoming an online society and though in some ways that is good because it means that distances are no object and the six degrees of separation suddenly become 6-clicks of difference, it is also destroying society as we have come to know it and rebuilding it into something I’m not sure I altogether like…

Letters used to the way to communicate to speak to people great distances away and these, closed with a personal seal indicative of each person, could take days or even weeks to reach their destination in some cases.  The art of letter writing was truly that; an art form.  The use of grammar and punctuation to express oneself succinctly but also eloquently, and the flowing style that could depict wit, emotion and personality coming through the letters on the page was a talent and a skill.  There were jobs available as scribes to write other people’s letters and pass on other people’s news and information in the best hand possible as well as readers the other end to bring the words to life to those unable to do so for themselves.  Letters were the way the world was connected and in a world as large as that, something thought as simple as letters held it together in a delicate balance.

Now text has taken grammar and spelling and thrown them out into the cold along with a good portion of the English language itself!  Instantaneous messaging means there is no need to wait for a response that may not make it, the worst we experience is ‘network failure’.  MySpace took the control of managed advertising and gave it to the audience, allowing self publicising and self marketing to take off in the media world.  Facebook and Twitter have allowed people the opportunity to connect with others that would not have been possible in the last 30 years, let alone the last 100.  But at what cost does this down scaling of the world come at?  What do we lose when we log on instead of reaching out for a connection?

Technology is amazing and at no point will I ever disagree with that or condemn the fantastic advances made in both science and technology, but I do feel strongly that progress for progress’ sake should not only be carefully considered but also the paths we carve should take into the account the route they have followed to reach that point before destroying all vestige of previous gain.  In other words,  whatever awesome and unbelievable leaps forward we may take in terms of connecting, conversing and contributing, it should never be forgotten how we arrived at that point in the first place.

Yes, the wonder that is instant messaging saves on weeks of delays and horseshoes but it doesn’t allow the ‘author’ the time to consider their words and once sent into the ether, there can be no clawing them back.

Yes, the amazing world of MySpace allows for free expression and branding and reselling of yourself but before that was available there was only you.  And you and only one opportunity to make that first impression. And it made people work harder and be better, not just look better for a photo to epitomise their ‘genre’.

Yes, social networking sites are unbelievable and negate the distance between lands, cultures and people to allow connections that should never have been possible and connect people in ways that could not be conceived before.  But id there a reason for that..?

I may sound  old but I hear kids on the bus shout things like “I’ll text you later or I’ll just tweet it” as they’re getting off the bus to head into their house, probably to go into their rooms, log onto their computers and start ‘really’ interacting with society.  They may have the opportunity to speak to people they could not dream of before thanks to social networks but is it really an interaction or it is just words on a page?

There is less and less face to face contact between people and less and less need to hear what people have to say when you can discover the person behind the words at their sites and through their posts.  People have now taken to promoting an ‘image’ of themselves before they’ve even met new people to save them getting the wrong impression from the start!

The ides of ‘society’ is that of the collective.  The people together create the ups and downs, the classes and structures and the ways of living but the influx of ‘social’ technology in some ways seems to having the very opposite effect by breaking down the social interactions and negating the need for real conversation.  The society this is promoting is not an evolution to my eyes but something very different and in parts, something very dark and unknown.

Sometimes I look at how far society has moved forward and wonder just exactly where it’s gone.  It’s like it’s taken the trip down the rabbit hole but somehow, got turned around at one of the junctions and we’re still waiting for it to emerge the other-side.  I’m hoping it will one day, but whether it will be recognisable is still to be seen.

Integrity, Honesty and Rugby

A day for rugby, the greatest game known to man! We started with an entree of Franca vs. Italy (or the build up thereof) at 2:30pm before scooting over the water for a light main of Leicester Tigers vs. Newcastle Falcons at 3:00pm and then up to the frozen wastes of Scotland for the start of England’s 2012 Six Nations tour at 5:00pm for dessert.

A sport I can appreciate and enjoy from the aspects of playing and watching, I find the simple pleasure in rugby comes from just being a part of it.  From the youngster clad in replica kit to the pinnacle of the sport on the Twickenham pitch and every level in between, rugby in a game for all.  For without those hidden layers it would not be the game is still is today.

I have often been told that there are no rules to rugby and strictly speaking this is the truth.  Rugby is governed by laws and as such, speaks to the uninitiated of absolutes, of pillars of truth deeply imbedded in the very fabric of the play.  The fact is that the people who play the best game are those who know how to work around the laws without actively breaking them.  Please, don’t misunderstand me, I don’t for a second mean to imply that you should cheat to be successful at the game!  More that the understanding of the game must be so complete that you are able to dance that close to the line without setting so much as a toe across it.  But rugby is more than a set of laws, 30 men, 3 officials, a smattering of support and some questionable bathing habits post match…

It is a lifestyle to adopt.  Much like the football way of life with the fast cars and faster women, one step ahead of the paps and the image that sells more than the sport you play, rugby is a way of living.

From youth to pension, beginner to professional, confused to coach the game affects everyone it touches and leaves it mark.  The game of rugby teaches those who have yet to love it about teamwork and sportsmanship as all sports should but it goes the extra mile and also promotes the ideas of determination, support, conduct , fair play and respect.

I have yet to see another sport send a man from the field of play for conduct unbecoming of a gentleman and ‘against the spirit of good sportsmanship’ (Law 10(m)), nor have I seen a team going so far as to stop play in order to draw an injury to the referee’s attention.  With very few examples to show otherwise there is rarely a cry of wolf on the rugby pitch.  The players are aware of the dangers and have often seen the resulting injuries a match can produce and do not take injury calls lightly.   And if it does occur – the infamous Bloodgate incident for example – you only need to view the shock and indignity that follows to know that this type of behaviour is not, and could not become typical because of the sheer volume of people who could not bear to see it happen to the sport they love.

The expression ‘play to the whistle’ is probably used in many sports meaning, ‘don’t just stop because you think you should, the ref is in charge if he says play on; play on!’  In rugby the other meaning behind it is ‘what the ref says goes’.  There are three officials on a rugby pitch – four if you’re lucky enough to playing at televised standard but the referee can overturn all of them.  He is the equivalent to The Almighty for those 80 minutes and as such should be treated like it.  There is no bumping, cussing, pushing, shoving, pulling, deriding, or general bullying of the referee as can frequently be seen in football matches, they are addressed as ‘sir’ at all times, and should you not be the captain, the vice or the pack leader – or even nominated speaker should all the above mentioned be indisposed – you do not even speak to the referee.  Did you know that in rugby a player can still be shown a red card for up to an hour after the match?  Tempers can run high in a physical contact game and it is not often that the law often comes into play but it is there, in the background, ensuring that what goes on the pitch stays on the pitch.  The fact that tempers are held, referees are not sent off in ambulances and the game continues just exemplifies the control and respect learnt to continue to play

There really is no ‘I’ in rugby.  No single performance, no lone celebrations to be applauded and spotlighted.  Yes of course all people have good days and bad days and some play better than others, but the teams that are the most successful are those that play – win or lose – together, as a squad.  Take a look at England’s performance yesterday!  Yes the media have rubbished it and the Scottish have played down their own inadequacies by trying to highlight England’s, but just look at the video again.  See the union in the English team, when one mistake is made all the players rally round that person, when someone works well and hard, it is accepted as a whole team effort.  There was no showboating, gloating, playing to the crowds, just hard honest graft and the result to show for it.  Ugly rugby people call it?  I still think, even with messy play like that it’s the most beautiful game to watch.

The old saying is that football is a gentleman’s sport played by hooligans and rugby is a hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen and this is the description that will always define rugby for me.  But the thing that has always grabbed me about rugby and appealed ever since I began to understand the difference between the rugby players and the footballers, is the attitude.  This carries forward from the minis and right up to the adult teams but it is in the junior rugby it will be most apparent.  In those players of years to come and the most susceptible age range for making decisions that affects their entire futures.  These rugby boys who play are mid-pubescent, emotional, erratic, hormonal and discovering themselves all at the same time.  And as a hobby on a Sunday morning they chose to ruck hard and fast in the mud, scrum close and personal in another teams body heat and run into players twice their weight and height with a joy and fearlessness no other sport has seen.  These boys are taught from touch to contact not only about how to behave on the pitch, but valuable lessons for all aspects of life.  Respect for authority (even if you don’t like it), support for your teammates (because showboating doesn’t win you prizes – or friends), not to take yourself too seriously (because clubhouse banter will knock that right out of you) and to know there are people who would put their body on the line for you and the team, just as you would for them.

Rugby could never be just a sport and be as big as it is.  It seeps into countries you would have expected to shun it and is played in the places you would least expect it.  It joins people together and brings a sense of belonging to millions.  And all the while it teaches and moulds us for life’s games and field’s of play.  There is a certain pride that being a rugby fan brings that no other sport can match and it is the feeling of being a part of something great; a feeling I wouldn’t trade for all the transfer fees in all the world.

A hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen?  Just remember; we’re all living proof of the future of that.