It’s sad to hear that Michael Lynagh, the great Australian fly-half (or 5/8 in some circles) has suffered a stoke at the age of 48. Having suffered similar a year at go and at a similar age, my thoughts are with him and hope he gets as much luck as I did, enjoys the same amount of excellent care and attention I did, but put on only 1/2 the weight. Lynagh comes from that rare breed of tackling stand-off halves (no, nor have I) and played in, and though not captain, led an Australian side full of superstars such as Campo, Nobody and Willie Ofahengaue, who not only were a joy to watch and won the 1991 World Cup but also tackled, rucked and mauled like demons (yes, it was that long ago). Michael was a brilliant kicker, runner and tactical thinker and was a true great of the game. Horrible to think of him cooped up in a hospital ward, but one trusts he won’t have quite so many rows with the hospital staff as your correspondent did (I swear, it was the drugs talking).
Meanwhile, the Welsh RFU’s resident Kiwi, Warren Gatland has also been taken crook, suffering with that very common but nevertheless annoying injury: fractured heels. Apparently Wazza was up a ladder cleaning the windows of his Waihi Beach holiday house on the Bay of Plenty, when he stepped back to admire his work. This brings two questions to mind: since when did they start building two-storey buildings down in 1957land ? and; who forgets they are up a ladder ? The former Waikaito hooker (Aha ! there’s a clue immediately) is laid up with both legs in plaster while his summer duties for Wales are handed over to real Welshman Rob Howley.
It’s a pity Gatland isn’t English as not only would he be able to still coach the national side, but he’d be more effective than Dylan Hartley (unless there was a Dwarf Tossing competition approaching) even with the plaster casts. 3/4 of English fans think that if the incumbent English hooker would 1/2 as good at throwing a ball than he as at throwing midgets across bars, he’d deserve his 2/3 of each match he somehow gets every week. As it is he’s been banned for a 1/4 of the season for biting for attempting to chew off 1/3 of and Irishman’s finger. Not that Warren would need to be English to qualify. There’s only a tiny fraction of the team who are.
I hate training. I always did. All that stretching off, press-ups, squat-thrusts, jogging around the pitch, unopposed drills. Yuk, awful. I suspect my lack of enthusiasm for training sessions was the one and only reason I never got my England cap. Yes, that’s definitely the reason.
Training sessions, in my limited but painful experience, are invariably held on a cold, wet Tuesday night and involve someone shouting at you for an hour and a half while you forward-roll and burpee your way around the pitch until your head thumps, or someone gives you a slap because you were either tackling too hard or not hard enough. Meanwhile all your mates who had to ‘work late’ or are ‘injured’ are in the clubhouse seeing the ‘physio’ or having ‘one’ ‘shandy’.
Actually, I was pretty good at that . There’s no more satisfying pint of beer than the one you have as you look out of the clubhouse bar at those assorted idiots on the training field going through beep tests and star jumps.
This five-minute fad of keeping fit can be quite annoying. The aforementioned lycra nazis mince around with their inexplicable air of superiority. Joggers in the street sweat past you under the impression that they own the pavement, with a self-satisfied “look at me” importance only rivalled by new mothers pushing a buggy into your shins.
That bunch who arrive back in the office at about 1.50 every afternoon, stinking, red-faced and drenched, unable to breath as they complete their lunchtime jog around the block- what’s all that about? If I came out of a pub looking like that I’d never go in one again. I dunno if they actually expect a round of applause for their efforts but by the way they look at you, iPod in ears and water bottle in hand as they collapse over the office furniture, you’d have thought that they’d just discovered radium. FUCK OFF AND STOP DRIPPING ON MY DESK.
The Incumbent takes herself off to the local gym every morning. I dunno what she’s training for and given that every single morning she announces that it hurt, I haven’t the foggiest idea why she does it to herself. I’m unlikely to announce that I’m taking out for a 10k run at the weekend, so why does she put herself through it? My mate – let’s call him Paul (even though his real name’s Martin)- joined the local fitness club purely to watch women bounce around on the treadmill. Now that I understand, although I did point out there were cheaper ways to look at lithe, young women’s bodies (I’m typing on one now).
Having said all that, I am in preparation for the big event next week. The imminent England vrs Australia cricket series starts next Wednesday, but coverage doesn’t start til 11pm and goes on through the night. Considering these days I like to be tucked up in bed by no later that 9.30 I need to acclimatise myself to match conditions. As I write, half the England team are in Brisbane, training in tropical conditions in readiness for the five-day match which will test all their physical and mental abilities. Nothing can prepare your body for the shock of playing sport in the extreme heat of the tropics, especially if you come from Manchester, Leeds or Nottingham, so the english bowlers have arrived a week in advance to give themselves half a chance of getting used to the sapping conditions.
My preparations will be no less calculated. My plan for Wednesday is to get myself down to the local pub for about 2pm, armed to the teeth with the daily papers. I shall order a pint and sit by a window and read every sports section available. At some stage I shall order a light lunch: steak and kidney pie or fish n chips. No more than four drinks shall be ordered (unless I have company then a sensible cut-off time will be deemed).
Late afternoon I shall waddle off down the hill to Railway Cuttings to the comfort of my bed or sofa (dependent on Columbo being on tv). Having checked carefully the last delivery time for Dominos Pizza (do they open through the night?) I shall snuggle down and sleep, hopefully for three or four hours. Alarm or no alarm, I hope to wake at around 1030, in plenty of time to enjoy the coverage of the match. Then I’ll simply repeat the above for the next five days.
Of course I will drop off to sleep again eventually, but this is the best plan I can come up with without reverting to chemical help to keep me awake. I’m so excited about the series I may just explode if I was to come within a nostril hair of any stimulants. No jogging kit will be donned, no sweatband worn. No hamstrings will be pulled, and even my dodgy achilles tendons can stand up to rigours of walking to the pub.
I’ll be ready. And so will the English team. Hopefully.