Saturday, February 21, 2009

Something for the weekend

Back in Musgrave Park this evening for the first time in four months. It's evenings like these that remind me of the little things I love about rugby.

A Magners League fixture doesn't have the glamour, or even the players, of a Heineken Cup match, but it's the bread and butter league. If the European Cup is Sunday roast, the Magners League is a sandwich - it's nothing spectacular, but it's nourishing all the same.

It's the gentle sledging of opposition players, whether it's the random noisemaking so the opposing hooker can't hear the lineout call, or whether it's something altogether more specialised, like Paul Warwick's London Irish hoo-haw or reminding Chris Paterson of how he contributed greatly to Munster's win in Kingsholm during his spell at Gloucester in the 2007/08 Heineken Cup quarter final. Chanting "Gloucester, Gloucester" might seem a bit out of place in a small rugby ground in Cork, but Chris knows where our thoughts lie.

It's the drive down, where teamsheets are discussed, fixtures are debated, decisions are questions and possibilities are mooted. It's the sneaky pint before and the few after (not for the driver, obviously). It's slapping your hands together in the cold, commenting that it's "a great night for rugby" and pitying the poor fool who'll bear the brunt of the first tackle.

Fuck you Tom Humphries. I love rugby.

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