There was this wonderful post about being on the losingest sporting team ever, and I suggested that my own experience would top that. I’ll show her I’m the bigger loser with this here post! For starters, hers was a summer sport, mine’s played in the dead of winter.
I’ve previously written about my all-time favourite sport as both a participant and spectator, so I won’t go into details about the hows and whys and ins and outs.
Season 2000, my club, UWS Macarthur (now known as UWS Bankstown) RFC was sitting at the bottom of the 6th Division table in the NSW Suburban Rugby Union, known as the ‘Subbies’, a sub-union of the NSWRU. The 6th Division is the bottom division, where new clubs start out, or where clubs that don’t win many matches end up.
I had previously played half a season in 1998 with the 4th grade team at another club, Lane Cove RUFC, in the 3rd Division before my ankle ligaments were snapped by two of my own teammates. Once I recovered, I contemplated returning to the Covies, but felt that the culture there didn’t quite suit my temperament. After all, they had a team song titled ‘Perverts of the Universe’, and which went something like this:
‘We are the perverts of the universe
We rape young boys
and steal their toys
We’re the Lane Cove RFC!’
So, after my one year injury-forced hiatus from the sport, I joined another mate at UWS, because he said it was in the 6th Division, struggling, and I was sure to get a starting spot. No matter that their home ground was a good hour’s drive on the other side of Sydney. Rugby is life, and everything else is periphery.
I made the run-on team but as a winger because the incumbent halfback was heaps bigger and faster than me, and also because the mate that introduced me to the club had broken his nose the previous week. While I felt bad for my mate, I was proud of being handed the No. 14 jersey. Right Winger.
Only thing was that all jerseys were the same size. XXL. I’m an M at best, even at my bulkiest playing weight of 70kg. They jersey was so big the cuffs of the ‘short’ sleeves ended at my wrists, and when I tucked the jersey into my shorts, bits of it came out from the bottom. My new teammates couldn’t help but start with the jibes.
Mate, you look like a kite flapping in the wind.
We lost every single match of the season after I joined, though my teammates told me it had nothing to do with me. The first win was a fluke, they said.
Our losing streak didn’t faze any of the players, but the coach, Frank, was livid. He had staked his reputation by forming the club the previous year, and this was the first time they were in a formal competition. Frank tried everything. Tactics, training methods, doubling training sessions, training with the girls’ team, alcohol ban, girlfriend ban. Nothing worked. The lowest point was when he got the team together before a game and before the captain’s talk, and tried to hypnotize us. Something he read from a new age coaching book, he said. It didn’t work either. We lost that game by 145 points.
Captains’ pep talks don’t usually work either. Especially not with this team. Coach Frank told the players before one game, ‘Alright, all youse fellas, go out there and listen to Boof. Any questions?’
‘Yes. Who’s Boof?’
‘Yer captain, ya stupid bastard!’
So, we had a captain called Boof. Boof also gave me the nickname Mr Miyagi. And nicknames* were compulsory in any Aussie sporting team. We had a ‘Donut’ because he was slow and had a donut-like ring of fat round his waist. A ‘Looney’ because his name was Choon. The only players not to have nicknames were our fearsome Samoan and Tongan teammates Lione, Sione, Lino and Steve. Mostly because their response to being called anything other than their names was,
‘You call me dat one more time, I’m a gonna break you into half, ok, bro?’
Even with the fearsome foursome, we didn’t win any games. Probably because all Lione, Sione, Lino and Steve liked doing was ‘breaking people into half’. The other reason was probably the fact that the team had new players every other week, and these players were what you would call, colourful characters. Often, a player wouldn’t show for a game, and another player would explain ‘oh, he got arrested last night for assaulting a cop’.
Every match at half time, Coach Frank and Boof would reassess our objectives, and say something to the effect of ‘alright, you lot, youse gotta get to their half and score some points’. Some days we did, some days we didn’t, every day we lost.
But as I checked out the NSWSRU website tonight, I saw that UWS Bankstown won three games this season, and that’s a three fold improvement on my season with the club. Well done, boys. Drink the bar dry for me.
*There was another club whose coach was nicknamed ‘Sunset’ because his pre-match speeches were littered with ‘At the end of the day…’.