I used to play, so did staff writer Alex Flint. Editor Will Hetherington plays every now again, but rumours of his retirement frequently circle the office during the later months of the rugby season.
We all loved the early morning kick offs (ish), training under floodlights, the emotional team talks, the fisticu………er, banter, the roar of the crowd when we ran the length of the pitch with the ball only to find out there had been a knock-on at our five metre line, the feeling of being a team, and, of course winning a few games every now and again. Despite our love for the game however, shooting, in my opinion, is better on the following six counts:
When the first bird of the day comes straight at you, you don’t have to worry about catching it and then passing it to avoid the big hit by 15 toothless growling wilder beasts whose eyes are firmly fixed on your jugular.
When shooting in cold weather, you can have a swig of sloe gin between drives to keep your spirits up. When you’re playing rugby you’re more worried about bringing up what spirits you’d swigged the night before.
When you go on a shoot day you expect to see ‘natural evidence’ of sheep and cows as you walk between drives. If you played rugby, like did once, in Dowlais, above Merthyr, you expect to have to dive in the stuff to score a try.
English guns don’t bang on and on and on and on and on and on about a shooting trophy they won four years ago. You’ll never find a Welsh gun with shaven legs. The gap between a Scottish gun’s cartridge to bird ratio is much closer than the score when the rugby team play any Southern Hemisphere side.
If you shoot poorly you’re always guaranteed a sympathetic ear from your parents. The father of my second row partner, Gavin, was often heard to shout: “Don’t ask him out, get him down, lad!”
Most drives are less cut up that the Millennium Stadium pitch – it looks like a patchwork quilt for goodnes sake – how is that playboy at outside half going to look good in that mire!