Well we are into the mania of the Rugby World Cup. I’ve watched Japan upset Ireland and Wales delight a nation while upsetting Australia. The watching of rugby has characterised a lot of the past 2 weeks.
A fortnight ago I had got injured playing, won man of the match and collapsed unconscious when I got home. The Dr’s explanation “Men feint when they’re in pain” wasn’t massively reassuring (and was pretty emasculating) but over the past weeks the ribs have stopped hurting. My shoulder unfortunately has stubbornly refused to calm down. I’ve kept away from the training pitch while doing some weights and the odd run. This meant that last week, even though my shoulder was ropey, when I volunteered to play I was left off the team sheet. I had to stand on the sideline and glare as the team got turned over by our local rivals. I put my hat into the ring again this week but as we had an away game, somehow I found myself on the bench.
Again, my shoulder wasn’t right. After 15 minutes our captain went down and while I’d normally have delighted in an injury that allowed me onto the pitch, this time I felt a lot more trepidation at the idea of stepping onto the pitch. I shouted at Danny to get up….and he did. 5 minutes later he was down again and this time there was no option but for me to take to the field.
Things started off well. The most useful thing I do on the pitch is run hard at people, so I did. I made yards, I pumped my legs, I did a trademark quick penalty from our own 5 yard line and I worried opposition tacklers. In defence the story was something different. I thundered into a maul to clear someone out. My shoulder made contact with the opposition then said in a way that would brook no argument that I was not to do such a stupid thing again. I didn’t listen and the next ruck I stuck by shoulder Ito someone and this time my shoulder insisted even louder that this part of the game was over. I tried to play on. I made sure I stayed in the line out to avoid having to make big tackles and I tried to cover space. When a centre breezed past me to score the coaches decided that despite my Braveheart valour and pigheaded stubbornness, I needed to be off the field. A bad part of me noted that a back row who couldn’t tackle today was substituted for a back row who had made a career of not tackling. That might just be a bit mean though….
So I found myself on the field thinking of ways to get back on. I spoke of how I could be front row cover and go back into the fray. I stayed on the sideline looking for my opportunity to return and run a few tries in. I talked to our physio and it was only when she did a brief assessment and pointed out that I could barely move my arm that I accepted that the day was over. Worse – it had been 2 weeks since I’d hurt it and it still wasn’t right. Maybe the whole bloody season was over. Instead of going out with a bang, it was more like the smoking fluff of a wet firework. Underwhelming, unfulfilling and a great disappointment to all. Even typing this I realise that I’m being somewhat grandiose. No one really gives a toss about my last season and the only real loss will be mine. It is crushing to know that in June it will probably all be over. It is heartbreaking to think that it might be over now.
Well….lets not go gentle into that good night just yet. I can eat a lot of anti inflammatories in the next week. It’s a vets game on Saturday and while part of me thinks I’d be a bloody idiot to play in it, there’s another part of me knows how precious these last games are. My shoulder will be iced more than a Game of Thrones wall and the tablets will be gobbled down like smarties.
Can you help???
As part of this journey there’s 3 things I would really like to do
1 – Talk to an international player (or a few) about how they coped with their upcoming exit from the game.
2 – Talk to a high level recovery expert about how the top athletes feel human again after a game
3 – Try out a top level clubs recovery facilities