A view from the back row...
The view from the back row is not always a pretty one, but playing for Caldy RUFC has always made it an exciting one. I have been at Caldy since I turned up a fresh faced 16 year old looking for somewhere to play, knowing very little about the game of rugby let alone what position I should be playing.
I was very warmly welcomed by Ken " The Gnome" Smith who was then in charge of the junior colts and immediately introduced me to three of what became my closest friends. That was 7 years ago and now every boxing day we, plus several others we picked up along the way , we still collect at the same house and think up several different ways to consume the most festive drinks possible.
I learned my trade at Caldy playing number 8 for the colts and then being recommended by Ken to the Director of Rugby Tony Atherton when there was an injury to a 1st team back rower. I was in and out of the team to start with as the younger, much lighter and less experienced option, but eventually I made it my own and I still play there 6 years later, a bit older and more experienced and a lot heavier!
I am still only a relatively in-experienced 23 and as Oscar Wilde once wrote,"I am not young enough to know everything." anymore. I have plenty left to learn in the game, but I have played behind many packs at Caldy and in front of many backs. None have been more exciting than those I am playing with this year.
We are 6 games into the season this year and are sat on top of the National 3 North league table.
Caldy, as many teams do in a newly reached semi-professional environment, have fought (so far successfully) to keep a balance in the senior squad of home-grown talent from our mini and junior sections and the inevitable influence of outside players. All of whom have been as warmly welcomed as I was many years ago.
We have started the season strongly, and our performances appear to be building week after week. The start for me personally could not have been a more frustrating one. A pre-season game and victory at Blaydon saw me tear my hamstring as a dove to tackle a winger that put me out for a month. I am sure as any injured or banned player will tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than having to watch your team play, especially loose without you being able to help. The move from security and excitement when playing with your teammates one week to the frustration and almost isolation you feel sat on the touchline having to watch them compete without you the next is almost surreal.
On a lighter note, myself and my little brother will be in the same 1st XV squad for the first time tomorrow evening for a floodlit cup game at New Brighton RUFC against Birkenhead Park. He is 5 years my junior also plays 8 and is larger than I was at his age, some, and only some might also say he has a step of pace on me also....but not many!! I look forward to sharing some game time with him as I take over the leadership of the team temporarily from our Captain Shaun Woof.
If you want to read the match reports, the most recent was beating Huddersfield away 37-9, and follow how Caldy are doing you can do so by going to the following: www caldyrugby.co.uk
My girlfriend who is relatively new to the game often asks me questions about the laws and terms of the game, but when asked what is a forward? I struggle to come up with a more eloquent answer than as described by Peter Fitzsimmons, "Forwards are the gnarled and scarred creatures who have a propensity for running into and bleeding all over each other."
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