…  Not Getting Picked for Ireland: or “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

The rugby Six Nations is back!

But yet again I haven’t been picked for Ireland. 

In fact, the last time Dr Brown pulled on a famous green jersey was the last time Dr Brown went to cubs. 

Which is why I’m beginning to think my chance has passed.

The school I went to was a big rugby school. Peripheral things like maths, English and science were seen as extracurricular activities, compared to the main subject of rugby.  Which is why in sixth form my school had the worst A-levels in Northern Ireland, but won the Ulster Schools Cup.

Not that I was picked for that either.

I played for the sixth XV.

And if there had been a seventh, I’d have been dropped to that too.

And there was a rumour that Mr. McKinney, the head of PE, was considering introducing an 8th XV for just me.

It’s a marker of how old fashioned rugby is that it’s the only sport that still writes in roman numerals.  So should that be the VIIIth XV?

I stopped playing rugby when my daughter was born.  I was finding that, as a thirtysomething, I was spending my Saturday mornings in fear, before spending Saturday afternoons being steamrolled by twenty stone teenagers.

Something had to give.

And it transpired it was my knees.

And back.

And ears.

I mean, what sort of hobby is it where you have to tape down your ears with electrical insulating tape for fear of having them rubbed off?  Because wet and muddy canvas shorts either side of your head in a scrum have roughly the same effect as the props rubbing your ears vigorously with sandpaper. That’s what sort.

That said, when I worked in Leicester A&E, the local motorcycle circuit at Donnington Park used to phone through to check availability of intensive care beds on race days, so a 29p roll of electrical insulating tape suddenly seems money well spent.

But I had other disadvantages.

Not just the cowardice, poor co-ordination or the fact that I’ve been accused of running like a chicken.

Eyesight for instance.

I have terrible eyesight.  When I say the match went by in a blur, it wasn’t because I was having a lovely time. I literally mean: the match went by in a blur.

And here’s an interesting fact about really strong specs.  The image you see is 10% smaller than it actually is.

Which makes is very tricky to judge distances.

Which meant lightly lobbed passes drifted hopelessly past my outstretched hands or slapped me on the side of the head before I saw them coming.

And opposition players who I’d give verbal abuse to (the little ones – I’m not stupid) turned out to be

a) further away than I’d thought

b) six foot seven, and, by the end of the match…

c) standing on my head while I wept.

So, when I found myself pulling a hamstring in September and thinking, “Never mind, I’ll shake that one off in July and August.”  I knew the time had come to hang up the boots.


If Ireland do call…

4 thoughts on “…  Not Getting Picked for Ireland: or “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

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