Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Good advice

Pirates Women's Rugby 1997

It seemed like such a good idea. I knew such a lot about rugby, had watched so many games, dated so many players, chatted with top coaches and was certainly fit and strong. For a 46kg chick that is. You can tell from the photo that women's rugby is not weight restricted, and that our fabulous captain, who played for the Black Ferns was close to twice my size.
So was the woman who sat on me in a ruck and broke my collar bone. The last thing I heard before the tackle was our coach yelling 'way to run it up Sach'. The first thing she said as I staggered to the sideline with my left arm dangling helplessly by my side was 'no-one comes off until I say'. "Yes chief, that's an excellent point you raise, but in my defense I have suffered minor concussion and can't be expected to remember all the finer points of your particular brand of masochistic coaching."
Hospital staff mistook me for a 12 year old and I sailed through A&E. Another winger (you didn't think I played prop did you?) from another club had broken his collar bone too. Strong, strapping, 100kg of Fijian muscle sat next to me during the wait for x-rays. Tears rolled silently down his cheeks. I gave him my most sincere smile, leaned in really close and told him to harden up. What kind of pathetic excuse for a player was he? Crying? Come on.
My first game back after an extensive rehabilitation period involved Pirates and Varsity A. I was put on at half time and I'm certain the rousing half time speech was primarily for my benefit. "They might be up by 20, but they will not cross our line again. We will be a fortress, our line will be defended at all costs. Are you ready to lay your body on the line? From the smallest amongst us ...." I tuned out. I'd always been attracted to the way that famous rugby nation, Spain, structured their defense. So when Annaleah Rush, Black Fern and sister of All Black Xavier but blessed with more size and skill with ball in hand than he, ran towards the try line with only me in her way, I did what any decent matador would do. I simply stepped aside and waved her on through. I did ask if she would mind stopping to sign my jersey on her way past but I'm not sure she could even see me without a magnifying glass.
The only try I scored that season, or any other season for that matter, was on the day my Mum was visiting from Auckland. Sensibly, she'd advised against playing rugby. Sensibly, I'd ignored her. She came to watch, somewhat reluctantly. Not many sheep hang round for the whole lambs to the slaughter thing. About 5 minutes into the game a schoolteacherly (w.o.t.w) voice could be heard throughout the wider Dunedin region. "Get in there Pirates. Smash them. Hit them hard girls. Chase it Sach. Where's your guide dog Ref?" Once a sports fan, always a sports fan.
The only award I was nominated for, I didn't win. Club Personality of the Year. It turned out that having a witty turn of phrase and winning grin was no match for the Senior Men's nominee who had performed indecencies on a goat, a sheep, the captain's fiance and was otherwise just such a decent bloke.
It is blindingly obvious with the benefit of hindsight that rugby wasn't going to be my game. My good friend A.R. Baldwin, a fellow student burgling his way through law school summed it up best in a song he wrote to avoid studying the finer points of Wills and Trusts;
"But it seems I didn't listen to myself. All my good advice seems to go to someone else."
Each of us already has the answers to the problems in life that puzzle us the most. We could all advise our best friends what to do in any given tricky situation. We're just not brave enough to take our own advice.
Which is why I've sometimes skipped my injections, my daily mouthwashes, and the forty pills a day regime. It's hard, it's boring, it hurts, and I hate it. Thinking about chemo makes me spontaneously vomit and there are days where doing the right thing feels impossibly difficult.
But like every tough thing thrown at us, this too passes. Today, was a great day and there's every probability that tomorrow will be even better.

What advice of your own are you ignoring?


Anonymous said...

Hey Sach:

"you can't change the past but you can certainly learn from it, now that is good advice in anyone's language"

Did you have to mention Wills and Trusts. I feel a Gibbs and Messer
[1891] AC 248 coming on!

Love your work. Keep em coming.

annabanana said...

yup. a lot springs to mind. recently I find myself bragging on and on about how great it feels to go for runs and how the buzz running gives me, would surely be THE solution to half my friend's problems. Only that I haven't been for a run in about 3 months.
So thanks, Sach.
I will get the gear out tomorrow.
You rock!