The rugby tournament (not going to plan)

The end of the rugby season is in sight. Just the County Cup to come this weekend and another big tournament the weekend just gone. Obviously my younger son’s under 11s team would win them both. Obviously.

They’ve always been a good team, right from under 8s and under 9s when they hardly had enough players to sustain a team, but this season they’ve been even better. Before this weekend, they’d scored 159 tries and conceded just seven all season. They hadn’t lost a single game. Last year’s County Cup final was controversial and disappointing. This year it was going to go our way.

My son wasn’t picked for the starting line-up of the first game. Disappointing.

He’s been there since under 7s, one of very few players who has, and has always been a first team player. He’s not good at tackling, but others can do that. He’s fast and he’s always in the right place. The assistant coach has described him as ‘one of the best wingers in the county’. (Proud face.)

He came on for the second half and they won they game 4-0. All going to plan.

He didn’t start the second game either. But he came on for the second half.

Being a winger can be a thankless task. In a team of very skilled players it’s not always necessary to pass the ball (even though they’ve had it drilled into them that they should). There can be a certain amount of selfishness among players who want to get the try for themselves rather than the team. But they passed the ball down the line, just as they should, and out to the wing.

And my boy scored!

A few minutes later, it happened again.

A 3-0 victory and my boy had scored two of the tries.

Surely that guaranteed him a start for the third game?

It didn’t. It didn’t guarantee him a place in the second half of the game either.

But I got. It was tactical, right? Weaken the team. Do enough to scrape a victory and win the game. Keep your stronger players fired up and full of energy for the semi-finals? That made sense.

They won the third game 2-1 and were through to the semi-finals. It was all or nothing. No runners-up. Win the group or go home.

Everyone was positive and excited. This was going exactly to plan. The cup was in our sights.

The game kicked off. My son was still a sub. And, to make matters worse, the opposition didn’t get the memo. The memo that says our team always win, our team don’t concede tries. The opposition were brilliant. Fast, strong and their passing was faultless. They could tackle our team and we couldn’t tackle them. This just doesn’t happen.

The inevitable happened. They scored a try.

And then they scored another.

2-0 down at half-time and the opposition still playing brilliantly. The writing was on the wall. They’d won, we’d lost.

They’d change the team at half-time, right? Bring on my son? The kid who has always been their first choice winger?

No, they stuck with the kid who’d only been there a couple of weeks. Who wasn’t as fast as my son and hadn’t scored two tries in the few minutes he’d been on the pitch. The kid got injured. My son would come on, right? No. They brought another kid on.

They lost 2-0. Out of the cup.

The team felt deflated, but I felt deflated for my son. That he hadn’t been given a chance. In a way, I didn’t much care about the result. My son could neither take the credit or the blame because he, quite literally wasn’t in the game. I’ve always loved that rugby team. We’ve been there through thick and thin. My son has been to all the training every week for four years in rain, wind and ice. He’s scored tries, he’s helped win games. But I felt detached. He’d been left out.

In the heat of the moment, we even discussed whether to go to the County Cup. For me, not to go would be unfinished business. We’ve been a part of that team for so long and I want to see this season through, no matter what. I don’t want to be a quitter and walk away. If this is our last season, then I want to show that we’re stronger and more committed than the newbies that come and go, yet get inexplicably picked for the team.

This is not how I wanted our season and, potentially, our relationship with the club, to end.

I have my theories about why my son is no longer first choice for the team. In the heat of the moment, I considered sharing them. My blog, my opinion and all that. But I knew I’d take a load of sh*t for them and, frankly, I don’t want that. So I’ll leave it just as it is.

 

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Author: Sarah Mummy

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12 Comments

  1. Sarah I know exactly where you are coming from, we had similar issues with my son now 20 with football. A goalie for 8 years with the same team, manager and core players, man of the match, scouted, trained with Birmingham City, then along came another goalie who went to the same school as the managers son and my son started the games on the bench, was dropped in tournaments, it was heartbreaking, they won the league and the cup every year, my son even scored 3 goals one season. Aged 15 he decided to play for the opposition, guess who won the league and cup that year? As you know I worked in child welfare for The FA and nearly every monday morning would start with emails and phone calls from distraught parents, every time I’d say ‘it is the managers decision and I’m afraid if you don’t like it, you must look elsewhere for another team, the manager is entitled to pick his own players, even at grassroots and it’s not a child welfare issue’
    after my son left a few other parents and their children went elsewhere and I’m afraid the team folded, unfortunatley both the manager and I ran the club along with a few others and after we had both left, the whole club folded the following season, 12 teams, as no one else wanted to take on the politics.
    I hope you have more sucesss than we did, but if your son is happy don’t rock the boat, if he is unhappy then look for another team, even if it’s not a winning side, as long as he gets to play.

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    • Thanks very much for sharing this, Suzanne. It’s a horrible situation to be in and makes no sense. Glad your son made the move to another team, sometimes it feels like the only way. Any decision to change will be my son’s and we’re not going to rush into anything.
      I’m impressed that you worked so hard for the team and the FA for so long – it seems like such hard work and such a thankless task!

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  2. Oh Sarah, I feel incensed for you over this! Being a footie mum myself now, I absolutely understand your frustrations. Why on earth? Do they envisage your son moving on when he gets to grammar school? The fact is, there’s probably a much better team waiting for him when he gets there anyway. Shame though, what a disappointment for him and in the final too 🙁 x x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much! They wouldn’t even know he was going to grammar school because it’s all a different world! We will see what he happens when he gets there, I’m sure everything will change next season. x

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  3. Its hard when are children have so much to offer and are good at what they do.
    Don’t let them beat you, it will be someone else next week .
    I think most clubs are like that and they can destroy a child’s dreams Bang goes their self esteem.
    See you Sunday

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks, Koren! It seems to happen so much in sport and it’s so hard on kids who have done nothing wrong.

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  4. Sorry it didn’t go to,plan and sorry your son didn’t get to play, sounds odd to me to not play one of your best players. Hope you manage to get to the bottom of it and can continue to enjoy being part of the rugby team. I actually did the touch line mum thing a couple of weekends ago (well, touch line step-ish mum) – we went to watch Andy’s son play as they were playing our local team. Adults not kids tho as he is 29! They won, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on really!

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    • Impressed that you did the touchline step-mum thing! We will see how he goes for the rest of the season. It’s good to know we have the option to move if he chooses to.

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  5. Oh my goodness, that is so unfair!! WE are so lucky with our football teams and we are just heading into the murky waters of rugby and sadly it already looks like we may have the same problem as you with L’s team. I know that there are certain politics at play but surely a child who has shown loyalty to a team deserves to play and it is so thoughtless to leave them out. I would have been livid so I can imagine how you feel. I do think that the fact that these are kids and they should be encouraged to play is totally missed by some adults and it is really unfair

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    • I was upset, but my husband was fuming! It took him days to get over it. It seems so wrong for there to be politics in kids’ sport. The kids have done nothing wrong and all they see is that they’re being left out 🙁

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  6. There are so many politics at play in things like this, but I don’t think the people who make these decisions stop to think about the effect of their choices on the children involved. Hope things are better in the County Cup.

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    • I don’t think they do! It’s really tough on kids when they’ve done nothing wrong 🙁

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