It’s the eve of the new season. The most exciting time in every Rugby player’s life. Weeks of gruelling pre-season drills under the belt, miles of tarmac covered, bleeps ingrained in the psyche. At 3pm tomorrow, the league kicks off.
But instead of being a ball of bursting, bouncing energy – sick with both nerves and excitement – I am typing this on a train home from Cardiff, sending tweets about the beautiful scenery.
This is the first time I have not been involved in the build up in anyway. The first time I have literally been on the sidelines looking in and I’m missing it already.
The end of the season was fantastic. A 40-0 County Cup win against Hertford rectified some of the hurt from the year before and secured some well deserved silverware for the Rangers.
I was awarded with the ‘Supporters’ Player of the Year’, which was a real honour. I think it may have been a victory for self promotion rather than genuine achievement but I’m extremely grateful all the same.
I’ve been through the reasons for my apparently early retirement any number of times with anyone who cares to listen! But the main question is – what do you do without Rugby? The categorical answer will come in a week or two.
Pretty soon my life will be a dizzying carousel or soiled nappies and sleep deprivation. And the last thing I’ll want to do is face up to a roid-rage mutant from Ampthill or the like.
The huge chasmic void has so far been partially filled by running and cycling. But it’s just not the same! (Start the violins) There isn’t the same camaraderie, there’s no banter, there’s no sense of group achievement. I’ve enjoyed running for the first time ever and I love cycling…but you can’t escape the sense of belonging that automatically comes with team sports.
I have been to two of Tring’s pre-season games so far. I saw the slightly under-whelming mini tournament between Marlow, Wheatley and Tring. But I was extremely impressed with the performance against Chinnor at Cow Lane.
I missed the first half, which apparently saw Tring concede a few soft scores. But what I saw was extremely encouraging for the oncoming league year. The pack looked very strong and dynamic. New signing French in the Front Row and an enigmatic Italian 2nd Row certainly gave some extra bite at the scrum…where were they last year?!!
It was difficult to admit but I was particularly impressed by the new 8, Lawry. He looked strong, athletic, direct and fearsome in defence. One bone-crunching smash on the unsuspecting Chinnor Winger even raised a wry smile on Radders’ battle-hardened features – no mean feat in itself.
The potential problems will be finishing. With no Mataei Express or Liam ‘Sicknote’ Chennells available, who will rack up the points this year?
There is the standard Fly-Half merri-go-round to contend with. First Jimmy ‘No Shower’ Fouracre and now Scotty ‘In-try-ception’ Browne has turned-coat and joined Canterbury. The stage is set for a battle for the 10 shirt.
As for me, I’ve already reduced my retirement to a sabbatical! I enjoy watching…but not when I know I could be playing.
I do love cycling and running and no doubt the competitor in me will enter some races at some point. But it will never replace Rugby and it is only a matter of time before I make a comeback in some shape or form.
Good luck to the Rangers tomorrow - or today when this eventually goes up. Win or lose, it'll be a rocking bus trip back from Westcliffe!