A Rugby day-out in Dublin - lunch in the clubhouse and a view from the bar
The agenda for the day commenced at about 12.30pm with pre-lunch drinks in the club bar. A gong was struck at 1.15pm. Members and their guests then moved to the function room for a fairly formal lunch. This was followed by, hopefully, short but witty speeches from the respective presidents of the home and away clubs.
The lunch finished at two-forty-five – fifteen minutes before kick-off. The more enthusiastic supporters donned their overcoats and went to stand by the side of the pitch in order to give close, vocal support to their team. The bar and the function room were on the first floor of the clubhouse building so that the match could also be clearly seen from there. The less energetic supporters either moved to a seat by a window in the bar or stayed exactly where they had sat for lunch. They just continued talking, ordered more drink and carried on, oblivious of the catering staff who were now rearranging the room around them for the post-match reception.
At half-time the bar was not crowded but those in it, who had not availed of a break in the fresh air, were warming up nicely. As the second half progressed the vocal support in the bar, alas unheard by the gallant players on the pitch, became more opinionated and emotional.
‘Now that’s a thundering disgrace! Ref, you’re as blind as a bat.’ said the honourable member with spectacles as thick as milk bottles.
‘They’re not fit!’ said the honourable member suffering from morbid obesity.
A rugby club bar is frequently populated by an unusually high proportion of very large people – both old and young. This understandable for a club that has been producing first-class players over many years but it still seems unreal. This is not like looking at a group of lanky, seven-foot basketball players. Most large rugby players are built in similar proportions to much smaller people. It is like an optical illusion. From 20 or 30 feet away they look no more than average-plus size, but as you get closer they seem to grow faster than the eye or the brain can handle.
Hanging around with very large people can occasionally be dangerous. Consider the case of the man, then in his 50s, who had played lock forward for the first team for many years. He was six foot four inches tall and, not being in as good a condition as in his playing days, he was as broad as he was long, weighing in at about 22 stone. He remained an active member and enjoyed reminiscing with his former team mates over a few drinks on a Saturday afternoon. On this particular day, however, he must have been tired after the week’s work. He was standing in a circle of friends with a newly-poured, untouched pint of Guinness in his right hand. Then he slowly moved away from his circle with small backward steps. The pace of the steps began to quicken but they could not keep up with his upper body. It was clear that he was going to fall.
Nobody shouted “Timber!” but many thought it. All those in his backward path scattered for fear of being crushed. It would have taken at least three men of similar size in perfect formation to have created a wedge capable of preventing his fall. He travelled another six or eight feet before landing, back first, on a table laden with pints of Guinness and other assorted beverages, the owners of which had wisely vacated their previously desirable location just seconds before. A tsunami of black and tanned frothy liquid hit the inside of the clubhouse window, accompanied by the sound of splintering furniture. When the unfortunate man came to rest he looked like an upturned turtle. He was lying on the floor with his head and knees pointing upwards. Despite getting on in years, he still knew how to fall. His large and powerful back had protected him. Miraculously, his freshly poured pint remained full in his right hand, his wrist and elbow having automatically operated in perfect counterpoint to the dynamics of his fall. He slowly turned his head and gazed in admiration at the perfectly formed pint.