Pally Pigs First home game
By Tony Berson
Speed, cunning and agility ... none of which was displayed on Saturday night.
Palmyra was trending in the newspaper again this weekend : a whole day of rugby and entertainment to celebrate its 80th Anniversary on Saturday. While the main act was an international test between your senior team and the Barbarian selection composed of Shamboks (one of the oldest team in Perth, not by its players average age but by its foundation 22 years ago) blended with some Old Goats from Curtin, which our intelligence service have reported to have infiltrated our club too (thanks for joining guys !) ; Curtain raisers started as early as 7:00am with under6s « Pallying » against Nedlands.
All good ingredients were there to make it a special day: great weather, 1st class organisation and a big crowd gathered to give the clap to the survivors of the Rocking Chairs clash. During some gutsy performances from the juniors, the Champagne started to flow, that was around 3pm.
Then Pally tribe converged in a dark corner of the pitch to start its superstitious rite: counting its numbers in circle – approx 28 bodies according to authorised Historians, as we were reinforced by some fresh remnants from the Silverados, a long time ago disappeared team that used to haunt Tompkins Park in previous Millenium. Hats off to the stalwarts of our club who joined us on the day, none of which wanted to wear the golden short ! Some less seasoned players were doing their prayers, saying last goodbye to their Mummies, others where getting more taped than Tuthankhamon Mummies... Last ciggies, 1st Tawny, Wills. Sacrebleu, I forgot my mouthguard !
The reputation of the fierce Shamboks was verified when their charismatic leader, Herr Kapitan Jerrald, with his pith helmet and bull whip, launched his Afrikaan rant, the famous Shambok dance, to demand in tribute 4 players from our ranks. Fortunately the duct tape held strong so no guinea pig exploded in laughter but the large audience didn't cope without cheering. Anyway, true Australians are fairly used to endure the unfair advantage from other countries traditional dances before a game of rugby... and we had recruited some bright elements from the Foreign Legion – welcome to Johnny, Pete , Damien-the-Masseur, Lionel...
Purposely, Palmyra had its own secret weapon, able to crack any seriously armoured grassroot fighter - we arranged to provide the ref: Holmsie arrived superbly in his official Grand Uniform of Senior Referee from the Enormous Republic of Rugbystan, with Black Top Hat, fluorange Knickerbockers and yellow Maw.
Then something even more extraordinary happened. Something as important as when William Webb Ellis decided that Soccer was defintely too stupid for not using his arms, happened. You will be able to tell your great-grand-sons, you were there when: We INVENTED the 18-a-side rugby. Indeed Holmsie had his white cane with him and the troops were so eager that we had doubled the wingers on the pitch. Or maybe we should call them the « loose backs », « underflankers », or « inutility backs ». Their strategic interest in the game was straight away demonstrated in defence by their ability to force a knock-on by the opponent as they were always close enough to see when we were pulling faces. On the contrary, their worth needs to be proven in attack, except twice as many players close to the lineout means more coaching advice from the bench and more and more porous sidelines...
1st drama was Chris who had to leave the field to pack some icecubes in his shorts (hope the mussles will be ok for next week), immediately subbed by another Chris, the iron(ing)man. As the penalties were fairly though randomly awarded to each side, the score was keeping tight. The audience was frothing for some tries. Then suddenly the Greens detected a weakness in a blindside: a half was left on the right who couldn't turn is neck left so they were right to attack his channel and finally open the score board soon before halftime.
The game was physical in the rucks and rugby philosophers resolved we couldn't do our signature move, the 15-man scrum, as we were 18 on the pitch. We had to rely on some magic beverage before the restart and some flair in the backs afterwards.
All the tricks in the bag were trialled:
the « short lineout » to make sure the rhumatisms would spring in at kneeling;
the 1-man scrum to let more time to the flyhalf to readjust his Haig, oops his « hair », before he chose between making the pass and not kicking,
70+ year young Garry darting off alone from a lineout (well done to our Dean of the Day) leaving behind all the old lads stupefied
Finally it was the gang of the thick headgears who saved the day, managing to recycle the ball for more than 2 passes : Nick dangerously approaching the fateful 20m run distance and taken by the white line fever is called by his 2nd row mate «pass it back », confidently throws a huge blind hurra pass above his head that Ian-the-pocket-rocket catches by the finger tips to touchdown elegantly in a rush of brilliance.
The score was tied. By this time, we were nearly 22 on the pitch. The few valid backbenchers rearing to go. A 2nd miracle occured. Similar to what the World Wide Web revolution did to poker. We INVENTED the « Poker Rugby »: All in ! It was like the after final whistle crowd invasion of the pitch in the 5 Nations back in the days. For the last action before the blowing horn, the Shamboks were boucing off a great rabbit fence to finish on a lucky draw.
Rugby was the real winner on the night.
Then I wish I could tell you more than an umpteenth group photo, the friendship drinks with the « visitors » and the packing of the hotdogs' shack but what happens during the 3rd half, stays in the heart, ooops liver, of each player/supporter.