My younger son has an ongoing, underlying problem with his achilles in both legs. It is almost certainly connected to the fact he walks on his toes, but it’s a chicken and egg. Does he work on his toes because his achilles is tight or is his achilles tight because he walks on his toes? All we know is, he has to be careful as he can hurt himself if he overdoes it with exercise.
But he’s 13 years old. He plays football and rugby. A LOT of football and rugby. He constantly overdoes it with exercise.
He plays rugby for his school’s A team and football for a local club. He had reached a point where he was playing rugby four or five times a week – a match, a games lesson, a training session or two, plus a training session for rugby 7s. Which is apparently an entirely different game. Who knew?
He also plays one football match and has one football training session a week. He’s very good at both games and is super-fit, but it puts an awful lot of pressure on his poor achilles.
March seems to be the time when they have rugby tournaments, in addition to all the other rugby they’re doing. When a boy has an underlying problem, a tournament or two is just enough to finish him off.
The 7s tournament they’d trained so hard for took place the other week. It was a long day with a lot of rugby. My son’s achilles took a hammering. But he just carried on. He also had the last couple of rugby matches of the season, plus a football match and football training. He gave himself no time to recover.
We kept telling ourselves and him he could recover after the next match. But there’s always another match, another training session.
A couple of weeks ago, I arrived to watch his football match. But he couldn’t play. The 7s tournament, plus the rugby match the previous day, had taken their toll. His achilles was too bad. He needed a break. It was two weeks until the next football match and competitive rugby had finished for the season. He needed to miss PE lessons and give himself two weeks to recover.
But it was house rugby the next day.
House rugby isn’t like playing the local grammar schools. Some of the kids in the house rugby teams don’t actually play rugby. Physically it’s nowhere near as demanding. And it would be very tough on one of the best players in the house to miss out.
So, against my husband’s wishes, I let him play. The damage was already done, what more harm could a little more rugby do?
And then he came home and announced that there was another 7s tournament the following day. He really, really couldn’t play that one.
Fair play to his teachers, they know he’s hard working and dedicated to the team. But they also knew he was injured. So they let him go along to the tournament, because he’d earned the right to be there, and basically not play. He played for six minutes.
Now he just had 12 days to rest until football. Would that be sufficient to get over his injury? Having been the league’s top scorer for most of the season, it was important to us all that he ended the season as top scorer.
In the meantime, he was ill. He played that game, but he didn’t score, and his achilles took another hammering.
My son loves rugby, but we’re all so glad the season is over. Hopefully the cricket and athletics season will give him time to get back to full strength ready for the new season in September!