Thursday, 24 February 2011

Don’t Fear Loss.

I am currently in a dispute with a bank about money; no surprise to those who know me. The unique thing is at the moment, I have had three successful arguments with financial institutes in the last few months and it has woken up a thought in my head about success and failure in a sporting sense. The reason I think I have been successful in my arguments is because I have not cared about the impact of failing. What at the end of the day is worst that can happen? I don’t own anything, I share a room in a piss soaked home with people I barely talk to, and I don’t own a TV a car or anything that is of any worth to anyone. So what do I stand to lose?

It is a very liberating feeling, it is a freedom that allows you to go out into the world and not care. If you put it into a sporting sense where does the pressure come from in any sport? Last night we did a training session with the girls where we went over a series of moves. They are not complicated, they are just simple but they need to be worked, on over and over again. When the girls were doing the moves they were getting it. When you put it in a game situation it all went wrong. Not because they couldn’t do it, but because they were afraid of not getting it 100% right. Run down a staircase without thinking and you move at a fair rate try and think about every step and you will almost grind to a halt. That is how you need to approach sport and a game, yes the overall aim is to get to the bottom of the step, but what you have to do is free yourself from worrying about every step on the route.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not about not caring if you win or lose, its just rethinking the process which causes people so much mental anguish on a rugby pitch. Where people make the mistakes that in training they never make and where the ball shrinks to the size of a golf ball. The mind makes them think when they get a ball, I must not make a mistake. Now take that pass and think of nothing but what you have instinctively learnt over the years and you can do no wrong. I am the most negative, irritable over analysing idiot when it comes to most things in my life but when it comes to rugby the effects of positive imagery is something that I think is fundamental. Go out and free yourself of anything that might hold you back, forget doubt, forget failure, and forget fear. The game is your staircase, you know how to get down it free your mind and run.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My Declaration of Love.

This weekend I had the pleasure of a trip to Welford road, sitting in amazing new stand and watching the Leicester v Wasps game. I have to say 3 days later I am still struggling to recover from the amount of alcohol that was consumed. The trouble with the luxurious rugby visits I have been far too lucky to take part in, you actually get totally spoiled by them and just going to a game seems like too much trouble.

This game was good, the setting incredible; but when news filtered through to me, that Chesham had beaten Princess Risbourgh away, the whole thing was just blown apart. It was such a good result and such a big scalp that I just could not stop grinning. The grinning became drunk dancing; the drunken dancing became joyful emotional declarations of love for all things Chesham. The crazy town, its oddball inhabitants and its nightmare hills were the only place I could think of.

Chesham is an odd place, its people are bizarre however I have never felt, as at home, as I do here. I am lucky to work live and play here. Yes I love travel and I love London and I love lots of other things but nowhere have I ever been able to call home. I was a Harrow born Cornishman who drifted and blew around the country until the anchors of rugby tethered me to this town. The first day I moved here I thought it was a social experiment to put together the oddest characters in one place and to see if they could establish a community.

Now I am part of that community and I am proud to be. The result just could not be topped. Then Sunday came.

Sunday the girls took on Guilford the only team to have beaten them this season. I arrived looking and feeling like death and spent most of the day trying to refrain from being sick. I can’t give you too many details of the game as it was so gripping I was struggling to do anything but live each moment. It was an incredibly physical game of rugby and our 13 particularly took hit after hit in the mid field either seconds after she got the ball or seconds after she had passed it. To her credit each time she got up and got on with it. Our scrum which looked like mice facing down a group of lions never stopped working and the team despite going an early try down managed to win the game 21 -5 in what was the best team performance I have watched.

I left the club Sunday, shaking, sweating, and feeling like a man on the brink of death. I walked slowly home through the town and thought: this is my town and I am proud to be one of its freaks.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Its all to good to be true.

My rugby blog is like the old bus adage; nothing then 3 comes along at once. I had a great weekend, having a belated Christmas party and watching a bit of rugby; some in the flesh and some on the TV. England v Italy was a great game England looked so good, and had so much attacking flair backed up with a decent forward pack, they look really strong. I still have an irrational hatred for Toby Flood that has gone on for 4 years now; however I am willing to except he is pretty good. I am worried that Ashton is going to get analysed to death in the coming weeks and as a result shut out of a few games. For me though its players like Tom Palmer and Dylan Hartley that have done some great work along with the new boy Corbisero and Dan Cole, they give freedom to the back row to dominate the games. Palmer has been sublime the last two games with his ball skills and work rate. A tight five working that hard it gives so many opportunities to others, that everyone looks good. Like the Jonny Wilkinson drop goal against Australia, it only comes about as a result of a good line out, a good clear out, and some good driving play to put the players in the right place. Some may say I am biased about the importance of the tight five, I am, but that doesn’t mean I am wrong.

France were made to look very beatable by Ireland, which sets up an interesting battle in the forthcoming game against les Bleus. I am starting to get confident we can win it; now bear in mind my rugby knowledge currently sees me bottom of the fantasy league I created and about 100 points adrift of everyone, I think it’s important to take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

I did go and watch the England women play on Saturday against Italy and I have to say it was a really good game. The noticeable points were the lineout which looked really good, really dynamic and effective. Italy surprised me in that it wasn’t until late in the second half they started to struggle in the set piece they looked quite tough in the tight. The stand out player, and I have to say the standout player from all the rugby I watched at the weekend; was the Worcester flanker Heather Fisher. I actually think I developed an eighty minute crush on her as she totally dominated the game and appeared everywhere, tackling like a sledgehammer, running lines at pace and with such power she broke the line at will. I guess in the shadow of a personality and player like Maggie Alphonsi it is easy to blend into the background but Fisher certainly didn’t do that. I don’t want to sound like I going overboard because I knew she was good having seen her in action in the past. Seeing her perform up close was impressive, her aggression at the breakdown and work rate were just phenomenal. It’s hard to not go on and on about it and forget the other players on the pitch but it has been a long time since I saw one individual have such an impact on a game.

All that done, it was a cracking weekend. Next weekend gets tougher as I am away in Leicester to watch Wasps play up there; I think it may involve too much beer and a pretty tough game for Wasps.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

219 points.Part 2. Women's game.

Sunday comes around to soon when you are hanging from too much beer and not enough sleep. With no car anymore I leave my house at about 10am and wander the streets looking for coffee and food carrying everything I believe I may need to get me through the day. On this occasion I left with just a coat, even forgot my whistle as I prepared to wander to the club to see the women play. I actually really enjoy being involved in the small way I am with the women’s set up. -- I am a rugby anorak, I read stats, I look at coaching patterns, when people are watching the dancing girls in the pre-match build up to a premiership game, I am looking at the cone arrangement the coach is setting out or how they use the pads. Some people use the internet for porn, me I am obsessed with finding a warm up drill via YouTube. The other day I even watched a football team warm up and thought “how could you use that in a rugby sense.” For the record I still haven’t worked it out yet. I have never had an eye for detail in anything other than rugby. When it comes to rugby I am obsessed with the minutiae of every single aspect of the game. – The women kindly offer me an outlet for this and the chance to get over excited about defensive patterns, slices, body positions at the scrums and where to opposition look weak without looking to bored.

The team this weekend face Kilburn and Kilburn a team with their own issues were unable to raise a side so we found ourselves in the unique position of having more players than them. To ensure the game went ahead we loaned them a couple of players who kindly volunteered and played in a 10’s format. As soon as this decision was made, I was pretty confident it was a win. Our team possess the best and quickest set of backs of any team I have ever been involved with. When the ball moves wide they are devastating and that is not to belittle the forwards, they too have produced the ball that gets the backs going and have done it very well. With the exception of the 2 teams we have not faced yet this season and even including the only one we lost to. The Chesham ladies team are formidable and their pace is terrifying from 9-15 they are like a team of roadrunners and I will be honest 1-8 are no slouches. This season they have had a tough start but with every game they get better and better and better. Every player in the team has improved from the oldest and most experienced to the newest and the youngest and some have exceeded that. We have a quiete young centre who started the season barely able to talk and each game she has improved so much so that on Sunday she was in total charge of the defence pointing out the weakness making tackles and getting straight back up into the back line. It was a vital performance with a few key players missing. Also the team were able to field 2 players totally new to rugby who took to the field and did their stuff for the final few minutes and looked like they enjoyed themselves.

As for Kilburn, well I can’t help but to feel huge sympathy for them, as a player and coach in the past I have been in their shoes. It is heartbreaking and hard work, and you feel like the world is against you but they did their club proud, and as a result of their trip 23 people got to play rugby. They scored a try which we all felt they deserved; and personally, I got to spout my rugby nonsense for a couple of hours.

219 points. Part 1.

After a long enforced absence due to having to write poetry for part of an assignment I have to produce; I was left with no option but to write about the rugby that took place at Chesham over the weekend.

It all started on Friday with the Wales v England game, we had a massive turn out at the club with loads of old boys joining the many young ones in what was a great atmosphere. I have to say it was a really memorable night it was nice to catch up and chat and generally enjoy the game. The result helps but it was just a good night, if a little drunken and we all strolled/stumbled into town and continued; old and young in the local pub.

Saturday started with a few sore heads and a lot of absences, with people being away, either skiing or just drinking. We were without 21 frontline players; however the club was still able to put out three teams. This achievement is truly remarkable and a great example of the work put in behind the scenes by club captains and team captains to put together sides that are able to compete. Admittedly sometimes you just have to put your hands together and pray that it all comes off and it did in startling fashion.

I watched the first team take on Banbury II’s and was so impressed with how the game was handled and the ferocity of the warm up, which had been missing for some time, was the marker of the no passenger’s policy that was going to be played out. When the game kicked off Chesham looked so in control and so dangerous. They used all their players well, and set a standard that they are going to have to improve on, and work hard to beat, in the tough games they have coming up. Let’s not beat around the bush the opposition were awful but no other team in the league has beaten them as comprehensively. It goes to show the strength in depth we are starting to find in the club. Our young prop, who has bags of talent to be a great player either in the pack or in the backs if he can just decide whether he can stop eating for 5 mins was a standout player. Another young player, playing full back for the first time, continued his impressive improvement, to score one of the best trys of the weekend. At half time with a commanding lead it’s easy to switch off and come out and ball watch in the hope of getting on the score sheet; Chesham didn’t do that they came out with even more focus and scored again early. The final score was 81-0 and set down a marker that a few teams will stand up and take notice of.

The seconds, playing against the team I spent 80 mins trying to fight on one of my first games and lost not only the fight but the game, continued the good news thumping them 54-7(or something similar). There the young man playing fly half put in his third quality performance in a row as he led his team around the park in a controlled and efficient manner while his forwards carried on their good work for 80mins as the clubs huge fitness improvements showed all around the field.

Our third team went away and faced a wily old team who know their stuff and battled hard but it was a bridge to far and despite great effort came away with a narrow defeat. A third team in the circumstance of the availability of the weekend for me though is a win despite the result and they will continue to build as we did in the seconds a few years ago.

I have had great days at Chesham rugby club, this season, more great ones than bad. This weekend was probably the best. To say that having not even laced up a boot I find quite remarkable. The more I watch the more inclined I am to leave my boots festering in the bag and end my playing days with past memories of 40 meter tries, a 5 try season and winning more games than I lost. Than actually trying to make yet another comeback and receive yet another injury. I had a lot of fun but I no longer have the desire to play and to be honest I am enjoying my role as a supporter and tee carrier.