The 1st team result on Saturday was the first slip of the season so far and, while disappointing for all at the club to lose the 100% record, it was an unmitigated disaster for those of us who had played in the 2nds.
On top of the fact that, as we’re all one squad each person feels the emotion of any result as keenly as the next person, we realised that despite having achieved a comprehensive victory over Rosslyn Park, we were likely to take something of a beasting in training on Monday.
And so it came to pass. The enjoyment of a training session can be measured as inversely proportional to the level of involvement of Deano and Tappers, the fitness coaches. As we emerged from the changing rooms, the sight of them standing there with a twinkle in their eyes and layers of cones and rucking bags strewn all over the pitch made us realise that our suspicions were correct. That was fun. No more slip ups, we promise.
Since I decided to return to England and let South America fend for itself for a bit, I have played games for both the Development Team and the Second XV. I can therefore reliably inform you that the depth in the club is something else. This is very important. My previous 2 clubs both rocketed up the leagues but pumped so much cash into the 1st XV that within about 2 years of hitting their peak, the clubs were unable to field a 2nd team. This was because established club men felt ill-treated and because a lot of the guys who came in didn’t really give two hoots about the club and would play for the 1sts or nobody. Attendances fell, the money went and both clubs went into freefall.
After this I thought I might be a bit of a curse and that clubs should steer clear of me at all costs. But here, I’ve realised that excellent players can play a great standard of rugby every week in a variety of different teams if supported appropriately by the club. Last week in the 2nds, our backline had no fewer than 5 first team regulars from last year with 4 more in the pack, and in the Development Team the previous week every single player would have been more than capable of stepping up to the 2nds if necessary. Both teams completely carved up their opponents.
This as much as anything is crucial for the club to keep going in the right direction. All the new guys have bought in massively to what the club is trying to do and everybody knows that if their standards fall down one notch, there are plenty of people capable of stepping in.
On a sadder note, I know the London Scottish faithful will join me in lamenting the demise of the England rugby team in recent weeks. I was at Murrayfield earlier this year, and had the misfortune to go to both the Australia and the South Africa games. Yet another example of me being a curse – not good for the old self-esteem. I was so traumatised by it all that I turned down the chance to see the All Blacks game. Having been surrounded by Saffas the previous week I couldn’t face being cornered by Kiwis celebrating wildly under the delusion that this game actually mattered and that their team won’t die of it’s quadrennial choking fit in 2011. Bless ‘em.