Rugby tournament

The weather forecast for yesterday was bad. Very bad. And my younger son had a rugby tournament. We got up in the morning and it was grey and had clearly rained a lot in the night. But it wasn’t raining.

It waited until just as the tournament started.

It was a small tournament at one of the local private schools, with eight teams playing in total. The host school fielded two or three teams and the biggest team in town fielded three teams. And our boys rocked up with just eight players for an 8-a-side competition.

My boy is pretty good at rugby. He runs fast, he passes, he supports and he can score tries. He still hasn’t really come to terms with tackling and will often shy away from it, preferring to let one of the other boys dive in. He lost a bit of confidence last season, but was boosted last week by scoring tries and winning games.

The team went into the tournament with their heads held high.

They won their first game easily – 4-1. And I’m pleased to say my son scored two of the tries. That’s just the sort of confidence boost they need. They won their next game 3-0.


But they were getting cold and wet. They were soaked to the skin and covered in mud with their hair plastered to their heads and dripping down their faces. It actually wasn’t that cold – about 11 degrees with very little wind. In rugby terms, that’s practically boiling. But when you’re soaked to the skin with no prospect of getting warm and dry, you start to feel it.

One of the coaches had the good sense to bring a couple of towels along. They rubbed the boys’ hands and legs and hair, to dry them off a bit and try to get some feeling back. Between games they just took it in turns to warm their hands up. Some of the boys dealt with the cold better than others. My son was struggling.

They went into their third game – their toughest. They won 1-0, but it was a hard. Seconds before the end my son went in for a tackle. He went in too high – it was a foul. Both boys went down, my son got hurt – and colder, wetter and muddier than ever. He started crying. With no subs, he had no choice but to play on.

After the game he cried and he shouted. He just wanted to go home. I was desperately trying to warm him up, dry him, get him to eat and drink.

I’ve seen this behaviour before. It’s not bad behaviour or tantrums or attention seeking. It’s hunger.

Getting hungry and thirsty hits him hard. But it hits him so hard he doesn’t know that’s what’s wrong with him. His emotions are all over the place. He is completely irrational.

And as he gets bigger, he is harder to calm down. My husband blames me, he thinks I mollycoddle him too much. But I don’t. One of the things I like about rugby is it’s very acceptable for parents to cuddle their kids, shove food into their mouths, warp them in coats and fleeces, do their laces up for them – do whatever they need – and nobody thinks either the kid or the parent is wrong.

The other kids and the coaches were brilliant in supporting my son and me. They all said such nice things to him about how well he’d played – while encouraging him to eat and drink. I had a bottle of Lucozade and a cereal bar at his mouth trying to get him to take them, but he just wouldn’t. He wouldn’t change into a dry top either – he just wanted to go home.

The other boys were on the pitch ready for the semi-final when the coach and I finally pulled his wet top off him and forced him into a dry one.

The semi-final was a hard game. The boys played well, but they weren’t getting the chances. We were at the point when we were wondering who would go through if it was 0-0 when…. Seconds from the end, my boy got the ball, headed for the try line – and he scored!

My boy, the emotional wreck, had got them into the final with seconds to spare.

The kid who had been screaming and shouting and crying was the hero.

Finally, we managed to force a KitKat and a few mouthfuls of Lucozade into him. His colour changed, his face changed, his whole demeanour changed. After one KitKat, he happily ate another one. My boy was back – and ready for the final!

It was another tough game – against one of the host school’s teams. We really, really wanted to win.

Is it wrong that I wanted our little team with hardly enough players to beat the posh kids? Because I did. I wanted them to beat them at their own game.

And two minutes from the end, they did!

All the wet and the cold was forgotten when the team got their hands on that trophy and their medals.

I am so proud of my boy and the way he pushed through his discomfort and his upset to win for his team.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Well done him! Sounds like he really pushed through a lot of discomfort with a great determination to carry on – no wonder you’re very proud x

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  2. Well done! Excellent confidence booster. My son hated rugby, he used to sit on the side lines and make daisy chains. Thankfully now rugby is option and he does like a game of hockey. love Life’s Luxuries x

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  3. Wow what a fabulous post Sarah. Your son must have been so chuffed and you so so proud. How exciting to pick up the trophy and medals. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing with #whatsthestory

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  4. Yayyy well done to them – I would have been willing and wanting exactly the same. I can imagine you jumping up and down on the spot screaming excitedly. Do you do that? 🙂

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  5. Ohh wow!! Well done your boy and the team!!
    You have every reason to be proud!! x

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  6. Well done, never thought I’d “get” rugby, but I’m a convert. J says he hates it, but seems to enjoy when he plays….tho’ I’m always mithering about the cold, the wet, the mud and risk of injury. It does seem to do the boys a world of good and his school is very good at fielding A and B teams, so everyone gets a chance….agree though with no subs that’s tough and even more of an achievement.

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  7. I’m sitting in a cafe enjoying a child free moment, and you’ve just made me cry 🙂 My oldest is the same when he doesn’t eat, and I have the same fights trying to get him to. You must have been so incredibly proud of him for going back on, even before the try and the win. Wonderful post xxx

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  8. Well done him and his team! I am like that when I get hungry too, without the added running about in the rain to contend with!

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  9. My brother, sister, dad, husband and son are the same. Exactly the same. Only advice is don’t let him get hungry, but that’s easier said than done. My husband still hasn’t learned this at his ripe old age!

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  10. My brother, sister, dad, husband and son are the same. Exactly the same. Only advice is don’t let him get hungry, but that’s easier said than done. My husband still hasn’t learned this at his ripe old age!

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  11. awww Sarah this is fantastic, it gave me goosebumps when i read! i am so so pleased they won i was seriously sat on the edge of my seat.

    thanks for linking up with #magicmoments x

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  12. Sounds awesome – you must have been incredibly proud! I must admit to thinking that it’s you who deserved that kitkat the most after standing in the rain for hours cheering from the sidelines!

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  13. Thanks very much, everyone! I was so proud of him. It’s nice to read that others were on the edge of their seats reading this – and that others have the same problem with food too! My son seems to be the only one on the team affected, which isn’t great. If I wasn’t so wet and stressed I could have been embarrassed by his behaviour!
    You’re right, Suzanne, I did deserve a KitKat! Luckily the posh school laid on some nice food for everyone after the tournament! How the other half live…

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  14. Oh how proud you must have been of him – this is just the excuse I have been looking for to squirrel a kitkat in my pocket for emergencies 😉

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  15. Having been that kid freezing cold playing rugby in all weather I know how he feels, but rugby is a great sport as you say. I like that it’s generally positive and constructive, somehow avoiding the nastiness that can go with football.

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  16. That is such a lovely story and so beautifully written too, a real feel-good read, thanks for sharing and I’m so glad it turned out this way 🙂

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  17. My husband is like this with food, gets moody shove some food inside ;0). I can’t believe how hard your little guy was pushed that day, in the wet and the cold. Congratulations on the win, he really deserved it x

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  18. Well done to them all especially your son. I know that hunger problem when he doesn’t recognise he’s hungry and you have to find a way to get some food into them at all costs. Worth keeping something ultra tempting around as emergency fodder, then they will eat more stuff afterwards as you found.

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  19. Wow that’s great team spirit! My wee man has already started playing rugby at the grand age of 2 and a half and I’m glad he is taking part and they are already trying to instill some of that team work inside him. I am imagining myself being that mum like you now one day 🙂

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  20. Thanks very much, everyone. He did so well! I’m so pleased to hear that other kids have this sort of problem too. I’ve told him from now on he has to always have a couple of mouthfuls and a couple of sips of drink every half time and between every game, whether he feels he needs it or not!
    Am impressed that your son is already playing at 2 and a half, Sabrina! My sons were 9 and 7 when they started.

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  21. Popping back again.

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements :0)

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  22. Well done to your son and his team – by the sounds of things it was a tough day for them all. It’s brilliant how they supported each other and go through their games and won. Thanks for linking up and sharing your son’s rugby achievements with Country Kids.

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  23. Thanks very much, everyone. I’m so proud of him!
    Carolin – I’ve lived here fro 40 years and have watched my son play for three years, but I have no real idea what’s going on! 😉

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  24. Goodness well done to him, I’m probably far more of a mollycoddling mum as after all that probably would’ve given in and taken him home.
    Bet fighting through makes his achievement even sweeter! xx

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  25. Bless you! After three years on the touchline I’ve learned I have to watch them suffer and let them work through it. It’s not easy at times, but I know it’s important to make him stay. x

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