As we embark on our adventure in the National leagues, it was suggested that I make a few Presidential type comments and address our ever growing fan base. And no, I am not going to recommend invading, nuking, or even blessing North Korea, with one of our magnificent, Kwesi organised, Gogo rugby tours. Having said that, you know, perhaps a tour could be good fun though, we would be well looked after.
This makes a nice link to the first item I want to say a few words about. That is, of course, our pre-season tour to Vancouver. I am breaking a little with the time-honoured tradition of the. ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’, ethos. You will soon see why I am doing this. But I must say there is good reason for this rule. What is perceived as, and indeed often is, just a bit of harmless fun on tour could be interpreted in a wrong way, particularly in these days of social media. For instance, I well remember, some years ago on a rugby tour, doing a one-armed handstand on top of the Empire State Building. Now if some mother had seen that there is no way her ‘baby’ would have been allowed on any tours, so yes, as I said, there is good reason for that little rule.
I will start by saying that rugby playing side of tour was somewhat spoiled. This was due, almost entirely, to the stupidity of the coach of the first team we played against. And I said this there at the time. This team was Burnaby Lake RFC. They are one of the top teams in Canada. They have a magnificent set up, with their clubhouse nestling to the Canadian Rockies. And they were fine socially. But the coach turned out his absolute top side. To give you a taste of what was to follow he even had a tight-head prop, who had represented Canada the previous week, sat on the bench. He also had wound his team up to high doors by saying Gogo’s had travelled with a top strength side, and were bad-mouthing Burnaby Lake players, saying they were going to cream them, which was arrant nonsense. This was utterly unfair, the net result being his team came out to play wound up to the gunnels and proceeded to knock spots off this ‘arrogant’ touring side. A dirty game ensued. The worst incident was when Sam was badly concussed. He was locked in a ruck, arms trapped, away from the ball when he suffered a vicious stiff arm. This put Sam out of the match and he could not play again on tour.
We also lost the next match, but it was played in a much better spirit. The highlight of that game was when our youngest tourist, Emmet Strachan, weaved through a packed opposition defence, which included the current Canadian Full-Back, to score a brilliant try right under the posts.
A major highlight, of the Vancouver tour, was when the tourists all chipped in and the money was used to cook (by the tourists) and provide a meal, for needy folk, at a hostel. This was situated in a very seedy part of Vancouver. There is a video of this experience, which was a real eye-opener. Yes; there were bums, alcoholics, neer-do-wells and drug addicts there. But there were also a lot of seemingly decent folk who had, for whatever reason, not through any real fault of their own literally found themselves out on the street. Could be they had lost their job, had a failed relationship, or whatever. The video of this experience was aired on national Canadian TV. https://www.facebook.com/VancouverCBC/videos/1382395081798042/
Last, but not least tour item, I have to mention is the magnificent bagpipe playing by Young McInnes, a fine tourist. Made even better by his bagpipe playing ability. The one playing instance I will never forget occurred in the Vancouver Airport Immigration Hall. Hundreds of folk were busy trying to complete their, (very necessary), immigration arrival forms. Suddenly McInnes, who was at the top of some escalator steps, started playing ‘Flower of Scotland’, it was brilliant and stopped the place. This went on until some very officious female stopped him from playing. I cannot perceive why she did this. There is no doubt our former colonies are becoming obsessively rule orientated, I also include Australia in this comment. We may just have to invade, and take them over again, to sort things out.
Now back in our real rugby world. We have got off with a great start to the season. No doubt there are some stiff obstacles ahead, but we have quickly, and successfully adapted, to the inevitable quicker pace, and physicality of the higher league. Long may this continue, and of course I have to mention Daniel ‘The face’ Osugo, my favourite ever player! Since returning to Aberdeen he, along with rest of the returning lads, has helped form this side that have been building together for the last 3 years.
Credit is due first and foremost to the players. Despite, dare I say also having, in keeping with most clubs these days, to deal with a long injury list. (The powers that be really have to find out why these injuries happening so frequently. I think all of us, when comparing with even a few seasons ago, would agree things are getting worse on the injury front).
And of course, we have a great playing area, thanks to the ever-helpful, always happy, groundkeeper Donny for this. There are also the people who give up their time to help run the team. We are especially blessed with our two Doctor J’s. Not only do they provide us with professional medical cover, but also with free, specially prepared, to a secret formula, scrumptious meat pies, at half time. We should perhaps encourage visiting teams to indulge in a couple of these super pies at half-time, if only to slow them down a bit.
Yours in Rugby
Updated 13:22 - 16 Feb 2018 by Ciaran Marshall