Cheeky Answer to an Attacking Dilemma
By Hugh Farrelly, From Ireland On-Line, 18/10/2002

YOU know those games where no matter how hard you try you just can't get going?

Nothing's coming off, the ball regards your hands the same way Ian Paisley regards the Falls road, the opposition's 39-year-old, 20- stone prop has just sold you an outrageous dummy to score his first try since Live Aid and the mini-Hitler holding the whistle is studiously ignoring you after repeated enquiries as to the time remaining.

And then, as the freezing rain seeps into your sodden soul and you think things cannot get any worse, someone goes and shoots you in the ass with a pellet gun.

Yes, that can happen these days. Apparently, in the Munster Development League clash between Thomond and Sunday's Well last weekend one of the 'Well players, Andrew Finn, received, what appears to have been, a pellet wound to the buttock.

May I stress that this incident does not reflect in any way upon the clubs involved, but it does represent a bizarre new departure for the sport of egg-chasing.

In any match, you expect to ship a few hard tackles, the odd punch, maybe a shoeing if you're lying on the ball. But having your batty peppered with buckshot was not part of the deal when I took up the game in school.

So what are we to make of this latest threat to the rugby player's wellbeing? Is it time to get out? Should mothers steer their sons towards the safer environs of table tennis and snooker?

Most certainly not. Firearms have been introduced to our great sport merely as a test of character. Think about it.

The (alleged) sniper obviously knew the backside is one of the only remaining areas on the modern rugby player's body that does not carry protective clothing.

But, even then, after years of being playfully slapped with wet towels, the rugby player's buttocks are generally able to handle most assaults.

It would take more than a pellet gun to puncture the posteriors of our heroes.

So, no big deal. As Sunday's Well coach Murray Kidd reportedly said afterwards, for the player it was "more like a sting" than anything else. Young Finn did not even feel it necessary to leave the pitch, turning the other cheek, so to speak.

Rather than be threatened by the weekend's events, we should instead view it as an opportunity.

If used correctly and safely, the pellet procedure could become a serious tactical manoeuvre.

Picture the scene.

Your fullback has broken through and is on a 40-metre sprint to the line.

However, out of the corner of his eye he is aware of the cover defence closing in and realises he won't make the end zone without being tackled.

At the critical moment, the full-back turns and nods to the grassy knoll where the club's team of marksmen (substitutes) are assembled, fingers poised delicately on their triggers.

They immediately open up on the fullback's ass and a veritable hail of pellets slams into his rear cheeks providing him with the necessary impetus to clear the cover and successfully ground the ball.

Of course, there would need to be rules, the union would establish how many pellets each team would be allowed per game and shots at the opposition would be strictly prohibited.

But think how it would liven up the game, not to mention training.

For a few years now we have been wondering how to break down claustrophobic defences.

Andrew Finn's backside and a stray pellet could have provided us with the answer.