Backchat With Catboy
Our man waxes lyrical on the Rugby 7s
Ican’t believe the Sevens is coming around AGAIN! Where did the year go? There’s still a bit of tinsel around the bottom of the lamp in our hallway from Christmas.
Your age will determine whether or not you agree with the above sentiment. The older you are, the more vigorously you’ll be nodding right now, at least until you crick your neck.
I was a Sevens-denier for many years. Because, as you’re all aware – I’m a secret hipster. I arrived in Dubai during the month of August, back when the Sevens was still held at Dubai Country Club. People were talking about it all the time.
Having never had the slightest interest in the sport, thanks, in no small part, to Len Tingle. He was my fearsome, mega-bearded P.E. teacher in the first year of big school. He marched a bunch of shivering, wet 12-year-olds through a rainstorm, onto a mud bath with rugby posts at each end.
I was tiny at the time (how things have changed) and was forced to be… Err… Well, I don’t know the position’s name… Basically, the little bloke who gets the ball out of the scrum and then gets viciously attacked, firstly by the opposing team, then by his own team for letting the opposing team get the ball.
This was, perhaps, my only EVER involvement in the sport. It was memorable for two reasons. One, my best friend ended up with a dislocated collar bone and got sent to hospital and two, every single lad on that pitch was no longer recognisable due to having a solid two or three inches of caked-on mud on every bit of their bodies.
From that day on, rugby and I took different paths. That said, in my student years and beyond a lot of people I found myself both befriending and respecting both men and women who seemed to swear by the sport. It didn’t sway me. There was also plenty of Hoorah Henrys – posh kids, with better cars than my dad’s, expensive sweaters strewn across their shoulders, who were possibly somehow linked to Boris Johnson and lower ranked British royalty. That got my working class heckles up and that was that.
So, on arrival in Dubai and hearing about it non-stop, then having several people seem incredulous that I wasn’t interested in going, I became even more determined that, in the same way I was never going to have a Facebook profile photo stood next to a Ferrari (a Dubai plonker classic), I was never going to the Sevens.
And I managed it for a good few years. I looked forward to it. I was a great day to go shopping or just drive around with fewer idiots on the roads. Alas, like all good things, it came to an end when the corporate lasso yanked me up the Al Ain Road and I found myself on the pitch in front of tens of thousands of people, monkeying around.
Since then, I’ve been every year – and what an event. I don’t know how they do it. I also don’t know how at least 50 per cent of the people there get home. It’s brilliant. It’s a great place to go with the family, the lads, the girls, or tourists. In fact, it’s like being at a festival.
And I can say all of this; hand on heart, having never ever seen a second of rugby in the decade I’ve attended.