Sunday, February 14, 2010

The First Try

I was frustrated. And embarrassed.

I'd had the guy lined up. I figured he would get the ball any second, but I slowed down slightly, since in rugby, you're not allowed to tackle a guy without the ball. A split-second later, he had actually received the ball, and by then, it seemed too late. With my weight on the wrong foot, he quickly sidestepped and got past me.

And then, a few minutes later, it happened again. And then, it happened one more time. (It didn't help that the Comox jerseys seemed to be made out of some space-age super-slippery material). A few expletives popped into my head.

It seemed like a timing thing. I couldn't seem to get that down. I felt kind of like Steve Martin on "The Jerk", trying in vain to dance in time.

At half-time, I approached K., one of the guys who helps run the team.

"I can't seem to get my timing down with tackling", I said.

"Okay, no problem. I can tell you exactly how to tackle. You just have to remember one thing".

Wow, I thought. This is awesome! I'm about to hear the one key that will unlock the mystery forever. Never again will I miss a tackle. I just need this one vital piece of detailed information...

"All you have to do", drawled K., now staring at me very intensely, "is focus on the guy, and kill him". He waited a second, and then said again: "Kill him".

I looked - in vain - for any sign that K.'s lesson was a bit of cheeky hyperbole. In fact, his face was now drawn into a cold, brooding, squint, kind of like Clint Eastwood as the Spaghetti Western bounty killer right before he draws and, well, kills someone.

I managed to suppress the urge to swallow hard.

"Uh...isn't there...like...some technique I need to remember...?"

"Yeah - KILL HIM".

In the first half, I'd actually accidentally clotheslined a guy trying to tackle him. I swung my arm out just as the guy ducked low, and the inside of my elbow hit the guy right in the throat as we were running full blast at each other. And because caving in a guy's throat (classic karate move) actually will kill him, I was very worried for a second that I'd really hurt him. As it was, he was okay. But it was impossible for me to think about trying to kill the guy I was about to tackle, after coming so close to severely injuring someone. I mean, all I wanted to do was tackle these guys, for God's sake, not live inside a serial killer alter ego...

Well, fortunately for me, we retained possession of the ball more often in the second half (meaning of course that we weren't on defence), so I didn't have to worry too much about whether to focus on remembering proper tackling technique versus imagining I was Sammy "The Bull" Gravano dealing with a ratfink. But I still longed, as I always do, to be able to contribute in some way. I play out on the wing, where one doesn't get many carries even at the best of times. But playing in a Third Division game on a muddy field makes it even less likely that the ball will be spun out wide. So far, all I'd done in the game was miss a few tackles.

But - perhaps in a miraculous example of divine intervention - that all changed in an instant. One of my teammates got the ball and began speeding down the right wing. Another guy and I chased behind in support (that is, so we could ruck over, or grab an offload, or maul across the try line). My teammate was hit a few metres from the try line, and the ball squirted backwards and towards the out of bounds line. And towards me, running full-tilt behind him.

Still at speed, I snatched the ball on the bounce before it went out; and glancing forward, saw that the only thing now stopping me from scoring a try was a Comox player standing directly on the try line, four metres in front of me. In that instant, I knew I was in. I hit him full speed, and as he tackled me, he started to flip me out of bounds. As I twisted over him still hurtling towards the out of bounds line, I slammed the ball down. Try awarded: the first try I'd ever scored in a rugby game.

A cheer went up from the Premier players watching from the balcony, and I felt a sense of relief that I'd finally actually contributed something substantial. And as it happened, I think that try tied the game. So that was pretty cool.

As we walked back to receive the kick-offs, I got a few laughs by announcing tongue-in-cheek to the other guys that from now on, I expected a lot more passes. "After all", I said. "I'm averaging one try per carry in this game".

The game ended a few minutes later in a draw, 22 to 22. Annnnd...we'll see what happens next week.

25 comments:

Erika said...

Congratulations, Studmuffin. I love the contrast between the early frustration/struggle and the success that followed. Sometimes the former has a way of making the latter so much sweeter! Keep working hard and may you keep enjoying the payoffs :)

Rachel Romaine said...

Great post and descriptive writing Tal. It makes a reader feel like they are actually right there on the field with you. Congratulations on your personal victory.

Jewelz said...

Nice! The first of many more this season, I'm sure.

ca said...
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ca said...
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Heaven said...

Raaawr! Go Tal:D

Wegwitz said...

Love it! I played wing at age 16 in the "too old for high school not good enough for college footbal" rugby leage in Moose Jaw. I was just interested in the game but didn't have a clue what was going on. My best tackle was more of an assist where my head and the other team mates head met in the gut of the guy we tackled. When I woke up, the congratulations were worth it!

DiY said...

Tal, Any comments on the Olympics being held in BC?

Anonymous said...

Tal,

How is that really sad song that nobody wants to hear coming along? If I might be so bold as to suggust you liven the music abit. A good beat can make any kind of crap fun to hear. Haha.

I like steel drums myself, but trumpets like J Cash's 'Ring of Fire', Or P Simon's 'You can call me Al' are fun. I even heard an acapella that used alot of hand clapping, a MoTown song. It's title escapes me right now.

My favorite songs have people singing happily "To hell with you" at their problems while they dance joyfully in the streets.

Call on me anytime, I'm always 'hear' for you.

Anonymous said...

The Coasters song 'If you want to be happy' for the rest of your life never make a pretty woman your wife. is the MoTown song I was thinking of. Still can't recall acapella song....

Hey!!! Wait a minute! This isn't Michael Buble's web site...How in the world did I end up hear? Damnable spirits, I'm supposed to be helping Buble, sorry. Gotta run!

Bonnie Lass said...
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Jewelz said...
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Bonnie Lass said...

Tal, is a fantastic writer an is a sincere, honest, kind and tolerant man, indeed! In reading through some of his blog posts, I have come to see the vast wealth of knowledge and wisdom he has and so generously shares. Thanks for that, Tal!

Thanks, for being so opened and sharing your heart with others and for also inspiring me to get back into writing myself. Something I had put on the back burner of life for a long time, due to life's circumstances. I am back on my horse and riding/writing again and am feeling very inspired. You, Tal (believe it or not) have played a part in helping me, by allowing me to test the waters...so to speak, on your facebook forums. I want to personally thank you for allowing me to make my long, drawn out, boring post, about "absolutely nothing interesting to say." lol... on your wall.

Ironically, I have actually had a few of your friends email me and thank me for my positive comments and contributions and that they enjoy my posts. In fact, I have become facebook friends with a few of them. I appreciate sincere feedback as I am sure you do as well....that's what I choose to listen too...NOT the nay sayers and as much as "some" may try to silence me and nay say, for whatever reason that may be for(?!) You, however, HAVE NOT and I am sure that if anything I have ever posted on your facebook page or here on your blog page offends you, that "YOU" will personally let me know!

I have shared my thoughts and views with you Tal, in public and in private and you have always been welcoming to me and willing to share and listen...and understand. So from one writer to the other, I can rest assure you that there is no "Stalker" here...I just have the ability to recognize and appreciate (as the world renowned and famous author & fellow Islander, Lucy Maud Montgomery would say) a "Kindred Spirit!"

You are truly, "The Salt Of The Earth",Tal...keep up the great work on the rugby pitch and with your writing....as you know, it is very HEALING! ;o)


(((HUGS)))

Anonymous said...

I love Anne of Green Cables and I am sure the Anonymous Angel comment must be a joke.......I hope. Thank you Tal for EVERYTHING....Signed. BunnyBoiler? LOL

Anonymous said...

Hey Beautiful Strangers, take heart. Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of. Madonna ; )

Karma said...
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Jewelz said...
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Anonymous said...

Tal Bachman in a world gone mad.

Tal said...

Editor's note: I deleted several of these comments, as they constituted an off-topic spat between anonymous posters.

College Term Papers said...

Thanks for the tip! I've used it on my blog now.

Phil said...

Yeah,sure .

Kaitlyn said...

Tal, I think of you often. How are you? I have not been on your blog in along time. How are you 7 sweet kids? Are you still apart of their lives? I hope so. Hope all is well with you. Just want you to know you are cared about!

LDS gal you once knew.

Kaitlyn J said...

i had know Idea that Tracy left the church as well. Wow! I was friends with you when you liked in CA. Are you guys still living out there? Tell her I said hello. I miss her