Thursday, February 12, 2009

Muck, fire and rites of passage

Since Javier Bardem broke into the mainstream for murdering people with compressed air in No Country for Old Men, it's become more and more fashionable for serious professionals to talk about their rugby background.

Javier, for those who don't know, played under age rugby for Spain. Despite being exposed to the soft-top-pancake-pansy lifestyle of LA, Bardem looks like he could still do a job at number 8 for Old Crescent today. He is also, of course, currently doing the line with Penelope Cruz, a woman who is almost certainly descended from Helen of Troy.
The Chalkboard, therefore, is living on a new assumption that playing rugby as an ankle biter is the catalyst for all manner of financial swag, critical acclaim and female affection. (That The Board shares Anton Chigurh's rugged good looks, sallow skin and homicidal tendencies can only help on this front, he feels.)
This is the only explanation he can find, however, for Limerick City's obsession with schools senior cup rugby.
As you can see from the above picture taken at Wednesday's game between Ard Scoil Ris and St Munchin's College, the townies tend to get excited by these things.
As a bumpkin child of the Whest of the county, The Board understands the rugby part.
The pride, the camaraderie, the glory of victory and the agony of defeat; all this he experienced from the bench during Scoil Mhuire Agus Ide Newcastle West's gallant but fruitless push for an O'Brien Cup Munster B Schools title between 2000 and 2002.
But we never had mascots, or replica jerseys for the supporters. We didn't have face painting and inky bunting. We certainly didn't have snappy chants full of school spirit.
We travelled to games in buses that caught fire but kept on driving. We pooled together after matches to try and afford communal milkshakes at McDonald's. We stood around and spat on teacher's cars in Bandon because they were quick to give us a 30-point hiding, but weren't so quick with the ham and cheeses afterward.
In short, we played schools rugby the way it's supposed to be played - ingloriously and very very badly.
These townies should take a step back and realise that underage rugby isn't supposed to be a party. It's supposed to break your spirit a wee bit, just enough to brace you for the drabness of life as an adult.
But perhaps Javier Bardem has shown there is a better way. Perhaps we will all end up in bed with Penelope Cruz and her ilk.
The Board, as ever, lives in hope.


Alan Owens said...

It was fairly similar in Crescent, despite the supposed A school status. Apart from the highs of Senior Cup success in 1994 (David Wallace was a key member of that side) and the agonising junior cup final defeat of 1997 when a certain schoolmate of mine knocked the ball on while crossing the line for a last minute - and what would have been winning - try, losing to Rockwell in the process (who had a certain Denis Leamy at number 8).

Oh the agony...

dashoge said...

Ingloriously and very badly?
The Newcastle West way undoubtedly.
Not necessarily so for the rest of Limerick however (and it's not just townies, up until boarding stopped, Munchin's teams were manned mostly by Bruffians.)
In most places in Limerick, Rugby (schools or not) is played and supported with a passion that sometimes borders on the manic, hence the dancing chickens and face paints!

Scenery said...

Fair point though - excessive school spirit/chicken suits/bunting leaves you dangerously underprepared for the bleakness of grown-up life. Tedious athletics, now there's some preparation for the real world...