Sunday, 18 October 2015

Rugby, Ball and Tough Mudders!

So now all the Northern Hemisphere nations are out of the Rugby World Cup, it's time to tot up the positives and negatives of the whole experience - at least from my point of view and accepting that others may disagree.

The first positive is that we didn't pay stupid amounts of money to go to Twickenham. We went to two great matches - one at Elland Road: Scotland v USA. Lots of running rugby, great atmosphere and ... happy men in kilts in quantity. For women of a certain age, this is perfection. The second match was at St James' Park in Newcastle and it was great to see the All Blacks play for the first time  (for me) and was part of a rather eventful evening of which more later.

Also no Stuart Barnes on the commentary team on ITV. Joy! He is surely the biggest killjoy of English rugby. Yes we were, and are, fabulous hosts but realistically we cannot cut the mustard in the world game anymore.

So the honest negatives: the pool of death - why did they do the draw three years before the event? Also being pragmatic, when the winner of the European player of the year for the last three years is English (one of those being Jonny obviously) why would you not get over yourself and pick Nick Abendenon and Steffon Armitage? Then there's the decision to let a player from another code cut his teeth on international rugby in the World Cup. Daft. And finally, what bright spark thought Paloma Faith should murder "The World in Yoooooooniyon" umpteen times a day? If I was Henry VIII I would have had her beheaded by now.

So on a more personal note, a week ago we managed to combine three of my most favourite things: seeing my gorgeous children (two out of four ain't bad), watching top class rugby and grooving round the dance floor with my beloved. A few weeks ago, the aforementioned told me we were going to a ball in Newcastle on a Friday night. No, I told him. I have an appointment with two hakas - All Blacks and Tonga - at St James' Park. So after a little toing and froing, we agreed that my beloved's partner for the ball would be number 4 child who would come down from Edinburgh and I would go on from the sub's bench after the rugby which I was attending with number 3 child.

But first we had to check in to our hotel which was - bonus for me! - full of Samoan rugby players. In fact, we conclusively proved that only 3 Samoan rugby players will fit in a standard hotel lift with no room for anyone else. And they were lovely, posing for photographs with the twins and generally being delightful. Alesana Tuilagi who plays for Newcastle Falcons and therefore a properly lovely chap, posed with both children.

So number 3 and I headed off to St James' Park, watched rugby and had a great time (another negative - see above - no Guinness! Rugby should always be accompanied by Guinness, surely everyone knows that!) and then returned to the hotel where number 3 was looking very gorgeous and had had dinner with my beloved and his delightful colleagues. It took less than an hour to walk from St James' Park, change out of my England rugby shirt and jeans and into my posh frock and be on the dance floor with my beloved. Not bad, eh?

And now a week on and I have today done my first Tough Mudder. This was one of Acorn's last events as we are winding up the charity next year so somehow I found myself not marshalling which was what I had intended to do, but running with Lady H. We started at the back (but that's not where we finished!) and headed off over fences and obstacles, struggling through ponds which had water shoulder-high for short folks like me and up hill and down dale over muddy terrain for a full 10k. So not last, but nearly - but more importantly, a year ago I could scarcely walk to the bottom of the garden and this week I have had my final cancer treatment (nurse with comedy-large syringe!) and now I can do a Tough Mudder! Happy me!

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