My son Leo plays rugby and he just sent us a message to say that his team, Whitton Lions RFC, had won the league. This was his first season of rugby and he has obviously taken to it! Being in Spain while Leo plays in London I have not been able to see his weekly matches but last weekend I had a chance to get over there and arrived early enough to make the Saturday game.

He plays number 7 which is openside flanker and I was amused to see that he was one of two number 7s on the field last week. Of course there should only be one but I guess there were a couple of jerseys with the same number and it seems both flankers grabbed one! There is one advantage to having someone else with your jersey number – if the ref spots you infringing or you give away a penalty you can always later claim it was the other guy!

This blog is the nearest thing I have to a diary and so I apologise if I am wandering off the the beaten track a little with this post. Thinking about it, it may come as a relief from the tedium of me blathering on about another fishing trip to the river! And so, without further apology, and for entirely personal reasons I want to commemorate Leo´s achievement and to say that rugby is just one of many ways that Leo has made me and Catriona proud.

He was particularly pleased of a cut he got today around his eye which an opponent had graciously gifted him. Rugby is like that – there is such a spirit of giving! He said that blood was just pouring out of it. I hope he just told me this because it is the last thing he should be pointing out to his mother! I have since been reassured that there is no lasting damage.

Rugby goes back in our family history. My Dad played as hooker and captained his school, Roscrea College. Rugby was at that time frowned on by the GAA (the organisation that runs gaelic football and hurley in Ireland) as it smacked of elitism and was associated with the British. My Dad played both rugby and gaelic football but had to keep pretty quiet about his involvement in rugby or the GAA would have banned him from gaelic football.

Then, a generation later, it was my turn. I enjoyed playing but was certainly not as good a player as either my father had been or as Leo is now. My brother Sean played too. He is taller than me and was a great jumper in his day and so he excelled in the lineout, as Leo does now. Sean and Mark McCann are close fishing buddies and veterans of many campaigns but, before we developed our shared affinity for fly fishing and before the arrival of wives and children, Sean and Mark made up the second row partnership of my school team.

Rugby, like fishing, creates a thread that can link us together. Leo never really knew his grandfather on my side of the family as my Dad died when Leo was very little. When I saw Leo play last week it occurred to me that, if time was taken out of the equation, and we could prepare a team with each of us in our prime, we could build a team with players whose lives span three generations. My Dad would pack down, as he always did in the middle of the front row, Sean would be behind him in the second row, and Leo in the back row. I don´t know where I would fit into this imaginary team, or frankly, if I would make the selection. If I could play anywhere I would opt for scrum half. That way I could get to call a lineouts. Dad would throw from the touchline and the recipient could be, according to the call, one of our two jumpers,  Leo and Sean.

I´m back in Spain now and so unfortunately I just missed the weekend when the Lions won the league. Never mind, I have a beer here to celebrate and imagine that, over in London, Leo does too.


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League Champions!