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Bingham Cup – Day 1

We got to the grounds with plenty of time to warm up and get strapped. My strapping mostly consisted of two pieces of cardboard rolled up and covered in strapping tape that were than taped to my thighs so I could be more easily lifted in the lineout. I chose to write a personal message on mine.

For those of you not conversant in Greek, that translates as “bring it on” , as said by the 300 Spartans to the Persians before the Battle of Thermopylae.

We watched the firsts smash Seattle before gearing up for our first match against a combined Atlanta/Philadelphia team.

I had been on edge all day, and stampeded into the game with vigour. We kicked off, and 30 seconds in I produced the first big hit of the tournament for my team, hurling my opposite number to the ground for the loss of a few metres. The Convicts on the sideline cheered. I had arrived at the start of the tournament, but as our coach told us “we haven’t arrived yet.”

We settled into an aggressive game, I managed a nice run that ended five metres short of the try line, and on the next phase a teammate crossed over, but waited too long to place the ball down and was hit in such a way that he hurt his knee. His tournament was over.

We put in four tries, and only gave up one, which was my only frustration with the match. Had I reacted a split second earlier, I could have gotten under the ball and stopped their scrum half from grounding it.

Our next game, after ice baths and lunch, was against Los Angeles. It was a tough match and it was played mostly in our half. We gave up one try in the first half in a bruising spectacle.

Late in the first half I had been in a series of intense plays and found myself exhausted. At a stoppage in play I took my time getting up, and while stepping away, I went back down. The physios came on and had a look at me, and took me off. By the time I was off, I was fine, though the spectacle of me being helped off the pitch made it look like I was in worse shape than I was. The ref would not allow me back on.

This bothered me. I wanted to get back on to help my team, but that was not going to happen. What bothered me most of all was knowing that I could have stayed in the game. The consensus was that I had fainted and that for my own good and for the team I was better off on the sideline, but I don’t think that was the case. I think I went down when I could have stayed on my feet. I was exhausted and wanted to buy a few seconds, but in looking all wobbly for a second and taking a knee, I had taken myself out. Nobody held anything against me, but my conclusion was that I had quit.

We lost 12-0, and I felt as though I had failed. I went home in a bad mood. The result almost certainly wouldn’t have been any different had I stayed in, but I couldn’t let it go. I left the ground that day as a quitter.

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June 2012

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