Monday, May 14, 2007

Follow me Terry, I'll make you look good

You know how it is - you scoot out of dummy half, draw in the "B" defender and put the runner you'd told to come with you through a huge hole with a perfectly timed pass, allowing him to stroll to the line for a try. It's not often when you're as talentless as I am that the runner turns out to be a multiple cap Great Britain international with numerous league championship and Challenge Cup winners medals to his name.

That was the case last Thursday though, in a charity touch and pass Sevens competition organised by Virgin Media. They had asked along former international rugby league players turned media pundits Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor as special guests, and through one of our team knowing Barrie we ended up with both on our side in the later stages of the competition. Sadly for Barrie however, it was Terry who benefitted from my slight of hand although he did look a little embarrassed touching down against opposition who were basically there (as we were) for a bit of fun.

It's certainly surreal, going out onto the field and playing alongside or against players you've marvelled at as recently as these two, who were both playing at the top level of club rugby in the UK as recently as 2005. Huge credit has to go to both lads however (and I can call them lads, as they're both still younger than me) for the spirit in which they joined in the day. They didn't try to take over or show off, they weren't interested in being the centre of attention but were approachable, polite and all the things that you're sporting heroes all too often aren't when you eventually get to meet them.

Much is written about rugby league being a family sport in the context of the behaviour of its spectators towards each other. It's a family sport in another way in my opinion, in that those who play, officiate, spectate or just generally enjoy the game all form part of the rugby league family whatever level their interest in the sport is at. Like any family we have our occasional fallings out, but in the main we look after each other and treat other family members (and the game itself) with a respect some more popular sports would do well to reflect upon.

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