St Marys vets x15 vs equipe des patenaires du stade toulousain
On a mild January evening with a slight drizzle the Vets were preparing to go into battle vs. Equipe des Patenaires du Stade Toulousain, a touring team from Toulouse. The fixture was arranged via Mossy and Julien (a former junior Marys player) who returned back to Toulouse in 2006. Mossy started to assemble a team and went about inviting lads up who were part of the junior team they used to play with years back. Calls were made, texts were sent and Mossy gathered a crew of ten lads; some of whom have not played in the club recently or even put a pair of boots on for several years. One player even travelled up from Cork and stayed overnight to play the game (although he did say had used up all his 2019 brownie points with his wife to make it).
The Vets crew made up the remainder of the squad with the usual die-hards willing to tie up the boots for another match. Bear in mind the Vets were coming in on a high following their win of the Kielys Cup in October; the clubs first silverware of the 2018/2019 season.
There were reports from a J3 player that evening that 26 French people were on Dublin bus heading up to St Marys for the match, the French seemed psyched up even on the bus. On hearing this news the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, as it does every time I’m asked to lead out the old lads into battle, apprehensive but with a great sense of excitement.
There were also a few whispers coming back into the dressing room that the opposition team was certainly not vets and looked more than capable with ball in hand. This added to the excitement, but when I looked around the dressing room at the Vets we’d put together, I realised I was among some gritty players who I knew wouldn’t let the club down.
It was agreed before the game to play 3 x 20mins games, the first game being touch rugby as a warm up and allow some of the French players who don’t play contact a run out, Toulousewere no slouches being younger and marginally fitter than our team but Marys defended very well and when needed unlocked the French defenders with some sublime play to win the game of very competitive touch rugby.
Then next came the contact games, there was some ferocious tackles going in and again some excellent rugby being played, everybody on the pitch seemed to be enjoying themselves and everyone who togged out contributed to this enjoyable game. No injuries were recorded by either team apart from a few bumps and bruises so this all made for a really enjoyable evening on the pitch, St Marys won the game 30 points to 15.It is worth mentioning that our score line versus this Toulouse side reflected somewhat better than our Leinster counterparts!
Once the final whistle went, players embraced in the knowledge it was a good and fair contest played in the spirit of the game. The new lads (Mossy’s brigade) got their first taste of Vets rugby against a touring team and they had smiles as wide as the liffey. I reckon they will be around for future games which is what we are trying to promote as a group; just because we are getting on in years and can’t commit to training twice a week and a game at weekend, there is no reason why we can’t play the odd game during a season with likeminded people and have fun playing the great game of rugby.
We all adjourned to the bar where the pints were flowing, we engaged in meaningful conversation with our French visitors with some French one liners from Old Fools and Horses. The game was dissected into moments of brilliance and laughs, a sing song also ensued and the French team got to see how we in Marys like to uphold our beliefs in rugby. Our club vice president Mick Flats took to the mike with his usual aplomb and entertained the visitors whilst club captains exchanged gifts which included a number of bottles of wines for the hosts!
This was vets rugby at its best; everybody who has experienced this knows what I’m talking about, for those who don’t then come along to the next one or bring your boots along and have a run out, this rugby makes you feel alive again.
You may ask I am too old, is the pace too quick or will I get hurt. .the answer is no! The current Marys Vets profile have one playing rugby in Sweden, a former PPU president still trucking up the wing, two lads who first togged out together 35 years ago in St Marys junior school, a South African with more metal in his body than R2D2, a Welsh tenor from the valleys, a Lancashire lad, a Cavan man, a blow in from Lansdowne . . . . The list goes on.