By Neil Edwards


Estates Gazette, 5/3/2008


Struggling back to the hotel in Cardiff at 5.00 am in the morning after a quiet night with fellow Barbarians on the 1989 Easter Tour, I decided to have one last bevy in the late night bar. Noticing a very distraught Mickey Steele Bodger, President of the Barbarians, I eloquently enquired what was wrong.

He replied "We have just lost Brian Moore with an injury and we are one down for the Hong Kong Sevens which leaves today from Gatwick -- I am trying to contact Dewi Morris but am having no luck!"

It did not take much time to work out that I may be in the right place at the right time! "Mickey, I'm your man, come on, you know I can run -- I popped over from five yards yesterday to score, didn't I?"

"Don't be ridiculous Edwards, you can't play sevens -- you're a second row!"

"I may be, Mr Steele Bodger, but I live at the London end of the M4, on route to Gatwick, I have an understanding boss, a car which is parked outside this hotel and which has my passport in it!"

He paused, grunted and walked away. I thought, “Good try Edwards.”

I was woken two hours later by Geoff Windsor-Lewis, secretary of the Barbarians on the room phone. "Edwards, we can't find anybody else, if you can get to Gatwick by midday, you can come" -- Game on!

Poodling down the M4 at 8.00 am, I ring my boss Richard Ashworth at Hillier Parker, on the brick phone. "Richard, good news, such was my performance this weekend for the Barbarians in Wales they have selected me to represent them in the Hong Kong Sevens -- may I have a week off?"

"Of course Nell, well done -- make sure you take some company merchandise and clothing when you go to promote Hillier Parker. When shall I pencil this week in?"

"Err, the 28th -- 3rd Richard".

"Is that April or May?"

"No March"

"But that is today ............ SILENCE ...............MORE SILENCE

I thought to myself this is really going to test the current debate over club v company in demanding time off from surveying practices for rugby. "Is that a yes then Richard?"

I arrived at Gatwick Airport by midday and joined my new team mates in a private room for lunch. I knew of them - Finlay Calder, John Jeffrey, Scott Hastings, Mike Hall, Stuart Barnes etc -- they hadn't a clue who I was.

Our first match was against the mighty Papua New Guinea. The Barbarians selectors gave me this game before no doubt dispensing of my services for the rest of the competition. For those who had never been to or played against Papua New Guinea, they are fast but not the biggest. So, at kick off time, I decided to re-enact my under 11's rugby days, where I stood head and shoulders over the opposition.

They kicked off; I caught the ball -- ran at them and scored with 3 or 4 of their players hanging off me! They kicked off again, the ball was passed to me and I ran at them, they jumped on me; I offloaded to Mike Hall who scored. This seemed to go on for most of the game.

The next match against Canada was pretty much the same with our new found tactic of -- give it to the fat boy and wait for the straight gaps to appear. We also brushed aside Japan in the quarter final.

You could see the All Blacks and Fijians taking notes by this stage. We eventually lost in the semi finals, beaten 12-10 by Australia -- Campese, Lynagh, Horan, Poideven, et al.

You can forget Zinzan or Serevi, modern day power sevens was invented in a hotel in Cardiff at 5.00am in the morning by a second row that by chance was in the right place at the right time for once in his rugby career.


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