I can’t take the stress of under 11s rugby. Even a few seconds of it just makes me too emotional. I’m not alone. Friends tell me they can’t watch their elder boys playing either. It’s the injuries, the being left out of the team and, this week, even a bit of bullying.
This week, my husband, daughter and I spent three quarters of an hour with my younger son and the under 8s. Then my husband went to watch my eldest training and my daughter and I attempted to do her homework while watching my 8 year old. We won’t be attempting that again – the legendary wind blew the pages and we started doing something we’d already done without realising.
So after that her two options are: talk to my friend and her toddler or go to the coffee shop with Daddy. So we wandered over to the other pitch to get Daddy.
Bearing in mind my husband hadn’t been there long, he had already witnessed an unfortunate incident. Two boys, who had almost certainly been playing rugby since birth, and almost certainly go to private school with that private school attitude that they are much better than the rest of the world, were niggling my son. One against one he might have stood a chance and given as good as he got, but two against one he didn’t stand a chance. By the time the coach noticed, it looked like an argument between my son and one of the boys, rather than bullying. So he got the two of them to run across the pitch and back – with the last one doing it again. My son is not the fastest runner and was never going to win it. Then when all the boys started cheering for the other boy, my son understandably burst into tears.
He may not be the best player in the world, but he tries his best and doesn’t deserve that from anyone, least of all his own team-mates.
Fair play to the coaches, they gave all the boys a lecture about bullying.
My husband told me all this, then asked me to stay watching my son while he went to the coffee shop.
Needless to say, I was feeling choked up with emotion by this time. I just want to keep my son safe, but he doesn’t need me and my emotions. He needs to fight his own battles, with the support of the coaches if necessary. In fact after the stressful cup day, he’s said that he doesn’t want me there at all. A year or two ago that would have upset me, but I know it’s the right thing for him and me.
I looked around, realised that I was the only parent there anyway, and walked away, back to the safety and supportive family atmosphere of the under 8s. I’m wanted and needed there and there is nothing to make me feel stressed out and emotional.
I’m pleased to say that, at the end, the coaches had a word with the boys and their parents and made it quite clear to them that it wouldn’t happen again. Because if it does, they will be out. Who cares if they’ve been playing rugby since birth. That is a truly inclusive rugby club and I am grateful to them.