21 February 2005

Hi de ho, fellow Ruggers,

This is the winter of my rugby discontent. I find it hard to write, or even think, about Rugby when I have a shovel grafted to my hand. All hope is lost for hitting the rich green paddock. Snow covers our rugby dreams like the pale blanket of death. I would not trade the blissful summers of the Northeast, but being the honest bloke that I am, I often find myself waxing poetic for my days in the Texas Rugby Union. It seems that warmer climate rugby never ends. It's just one looong season.

Can you smell that? No, I did not break wind - it is Spring, yearning to break free. Here in Buffalo, we celebrate that feeling with the Annual Winterfest 7's Tournament. 300 Ruggers brave the Arctic climate and run around, pretending that frostbite is a made-for-TV medical condition. The Tuesday after my left big toe amputation, we had our first indoor practice. Being three days removed from the trials of the sand-like snow, we feel lighter and free. We expose the uber-bright fluorescent light of our legs to help illuminate the large indoor pitch.

The last couple of years, I have assumed more of a Coaching/Administrative role, so besides the aforementioned shoveling, my fitness has been lacking a bit - to say the least! I will say this, though, a warm fast-track will quickly make you forget the copious amounts of Christmas fudge still coursing through veins like jello through a straw!

Great Coaches let the practice flow from drill to drill, tricking my feeble mind into believing that 80 minutes would be a walk in the park. About of the way through, the inevitable happens; each coach beckons his charges to line up across the end-line. I can honestly say that I have never had good things happen when that time came.

As a coach, I love the 4-minute run. As a player, I prefer the 2-minute run - it's the last two minutes that I could do without! The drill is simple - run 40 yards out and then back. You have 4 minutes to get in as many runs back and forth as possible. Fractions of laps count. I finished with a 12, although I'm not sure why I put myself into the mix since I'm not even playing on a regular basis. I guess it was a warped combo of peer pressure and pre-Spring-fever stupidity.

The burn started low in my bellow, and quickly traveled to my lungs. It wasn't long before every breath felt like walking across burning coal. While I coughed up blue-flamed fireballs, a new twist started to unfold; like a cartoon wick on a bomb, the fire like flame traveled to my teeth, eyeballs, and finally settled in my hair. In the great drunk words of Joe Willie Nameth, I was struggling. I would like to say there is a moral to this story, but this rant is already too long and I am sure to make the same misguided mistakes in the future!

Two notes of interest, Fox Sports World is at it again. Every few years they seem to question their rugby support. Time to let your emails flow. Send as many as possible to agutierrez@foxsportsintl.com. In the subject make sure you state your feelings. He will probably not read them past the subject line. Every email will help.

A Good Friend of Mine, a Ref in the TRU, Graeme Bullen, was chosen to ply his craft at the USA 7's Tournament. It is great to see a US ref getting an International appointment. It does not happen very often. Way to go Graeme!


Pat Laczkowski
Front Row Outfitters

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