Naked torsos are taboo

Up until now Rugby had taken a back seat and been a sport that we only played in the Lent term at Wellingborough. The grounds of the school were magnificent, and during the soccer and cricket term you couldn’t have played on a better surface. Harry Neal, the groundsman, was an obsessive cricket fan. He would periodically insist on calling off rugby fixtures to protect the surfaces for the cricket season. Northamptonshire Cricket Club used to play one fixture a year on the cricket square, which was known as “The Grove”. In August 1986, I watched Ian Botham hit six sixes and score 175 runs not out for Somerset against a side that included Alan Lamb.

My rugby initiation at school and beyond was not particularly auspicious, but epitomised a sport made for all shapes and sizes and all social classes. Frank Hawtin, our local village shop owner, recruited me to the Men’s Own Rugby Club in the village of Ashton. The club was my introduction to senior rugby and regularly ran three senior sides and a Colts side, which I played for in the school holidays before playing for Saints Youth. I loved playing for the Colts with some old mates from Duston that I used to play soccer with. Rugby then was a strictly amateur sport. You paid five pounds, known as “subs”, to play and drink until the early hours with people who were passionate about the sport and everything it gave them.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply