Readers of a certain age, especially if they are British, will remember an episode of “The Likely Lads” (or “Whatever Happened to…) in which Terry and Bob spend the day trying to avoid hearing the result of the England game so they can watch it as if live on the TV that night. It’s very funny. And of course it ends with the revelation that the match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch!
Yesterday was the start of the Rugby Union Premiership. The mighty Quins were up against Wasps at Twickenham as part of the traditional London double header. First on, 2pm kick off. I’d normally have been there, but we had tickets for the cycling at the Paralympics (more of that later). So, put on Record, watch on delay when I got back at about 3pm, that was the plan. Took a bit longer to get home than anticipated – I got trapped in the Olympics megastore as my girls shopped for souvenirs – but no matter, I was ready to roll at 3.30, to watch as if live.
What a disaster! Quins were totally out of sorts, Wasps rampant and it was 28-7 to Wasps after about 25 minutes. There was a massive gap on Quins’ left wing where George Lowe was meant to be, and Wasps’ speedsters, Varndell and Wade, were helping themselves to tries. This isn’t how it was meant to be. I was seriously thinking of using the fast forward button, to get the agony over quickly…
My mobile indicated that a text message had just arrived. It was about the time the game would have ended. I suspected it might be from my friend Jon, who was on his way back from Cornwall, but whose family were probably following the score on Twitter in the car. Should I look? If I did, I’d know the score. Ruin the live experience. But it wasn’t much of an experience. I couldn’t resist the temptation.
What a comeback!
He didn’t mention the actual score, or whether the comeback had lasted to the end of the game. So there was still a little bit of uncertainty to justify watching as if live. Even if now it looked as if the experience was going to be a bit better than expected. So I continued.
It got worse. Quins were lucky that Wasps had a try – another down Quins’ left – disallowed for an early forward pass in the move. A product of new rules allowing the referee to ask for a video replay of more than just the final moments of a try. (A risk that refs will use this as a cop out, but it worked brilliantly for Quins this time.) The start of the second half wasn’t much better. And with 20-25 minutes to go, the score was Wasps 40 Quins 13 .
When is this comeback going to start? It’s going to have to be amazing…
Quins opted for a triple substitution. Moments later one of the subs, Tom Guest, charged down a Wasps clearance and scored under the posts. Then a lovely move orchestrated by the magnificent Nick Evans led to Mike Brown diving in for a try wide on the left. Then a perfect Evans cross kick was gathered by Brown for another try on the left. Then Nev had a piece of the try action for himself and wriggled through on the right for a touchdown. He also converted three of the four. In less than twenty minutes Quins had scored 26 points and the score was 40-39!
Wasps were out on their feet. But Quins still needed another score. Four minutes to go. Was Jon’s text alluding to a great comeback that just faltered at the end? Did he text me at the point that Quins had got it back to 39-40? It almost felt live.
The Quins forwards, now on top, squeezed a penalty out of Wasps. Quite a long way out, but square on to the posts. Nev stroked it over imperiously. 42-40! The boys held out for the last few minutes and that was it.
Unbelievable. What that will do to Wasps’ morale I hate to think. For Quins , it will instill huge belief. But they had better sort out that left side defence.
Welcome back to the rugby – even if it’s never really gone away, if you take an international perspective. What with the Paralympics and the football in full flow, it almost felt too early to be watching the rugby again. But after that start, just can’t wait for the first home game this Friday against London Welsh.
Come on you Quins!