Monday, June 12, 2017

The Rugby MatchMeter

A handy planning tool for determining your schedule this season is the "MatchMeter." When you return home you may be too wiped out (or drunk) to know if you had fun at that day's match against that particular club or not. So, simply bracket the group that best describes your overall assessment of the game and determine a numerical score. 

Remember, the MatchMeter is a flexible lifestyle management tool. Feel free to personalize it by adding some specific characteristics you remember about the latest game. Simply jot them down next to the broad categories listed below. 

 Score and Description

10 - The weather was cool and pleasant, your side wins by a 60-point margin and nobody except opposition players got hurt. Their anguished moans provide the backdrop to your striding off the field, and some of them gaze at you fearfully or warily. Your gal, hearing and viewing this, states that she is impressed with your masculinity and physical prowess and makes tantalizing references to the evening to come. The after-match party is great, the beer is cold and you are spontaneously hoisted onto the shoulders of the pack and unanimously declared to be "Man of the Match." The people from work who watched the match stand aside in awe in the hallways when you pass by. The webmaster of the club's site writes up your achievement for the world to see, and several foreign professional organizations contact you about playing for them. When you watch a televised rugby match later that weekend, you could swear Jonah Lomu looked into the camera lens and gave you a thumbs-up.

9 - You score at least one try. If you’re in the pack, you spend the entire game pushing the opposition formation around in the scrum like a shopping cart filled with Doritos. Your side wins by a healthy margin. Your gal doesn't say anything to you but you bask in her smile and beaming eyes. The "Man of the Match" is a fellow who scores a try on your breakthrough. The people from work who came to see you play admire you and engage you in rugby-related conversations, during the course of which you impressively minimize past injuries. Your coach makes encouraging comments to you about your level of play, and you are moved up a side. Better yet, a guy who runs your league's union suggests you are a candidate for the Select XV. You know your day was well spent, and you are only pleasantly sore.

8 - Your side wins. The referee was fair and observant in regard to the other team's offenses but not your own. The match was fun, and you reflect that the future of the club is bright. The coach is happy with you, and you even see him crack a smile from the face you had always suspected was carved in granite. At the party, some of the women look at you pleasantly; you get a compliment or two and a slap on the back from some of your teammates. Your captain says, "Thanks for playing!" A guy from a Division One club tells you your talents are wasted. As you leave for the car you find a $20 bill on the ground, which can be used to replace the shorts you ripped in the match.

7 - You win by a point. After the match the coach tells you what you did right and promises remedial drill for the stuff that went wrong. The ref did his job more or less correctly, but didn't see it when you elbowed an opposition player in the sternum during a maul. The weather was a little warm. You have some black and blue marks. Good feelings all around. No problems getting home on the drive back. You acquire a complementary nickname from your teammates, like "Tackles," or "GTO."

6 - At the party, someone spills a beer in your lap and yet someone else takes a photo which could be subject to interpretation. (But this doesn't concern you much because you’re half loaded.) The sound of the ref's whistle is still ringing in your ears from the constant stop-starts. You find a couple of dollar bills on the ground near your car, which can be used to buy electrical tape for your ears.

5 - The opposition side did a haka, but a prop loudly passed gas while doing so, causing the overall intimidating effect to be considerably lessened. The score was a tie. The after-match party is okay. The drinks at the after-match party are room temperature. You leave early to watch TV.

4 - You accidentally drop your kit bag where a dog has relieved itself. That new club jersey you bought last week is ripped from your body. You are certain the ref is taking part in some unholy pact with the opposition side. Your level of play is such that the coach calls you aside and begins cursing at you. Your gal overhears this, and loudly berates you in front of the opposition "Man of the Match." (And on the way home she doesn't let up, either.) You acquire a not-so-complimentary nickname from your teammates, like "Feather," or "Ribs."

3 - The thighs of most of the opposition players are the diameter of mature oak trees, and their upper arms are bigger yet. At the friendly shake-hands session the referee instigates, one of the opposition players grins at you menacingly while making your outer knuckles meet. Your side loses, of course. (Again.) You are injured. By one of your own teammates. As you reach into your kit bag for six or seven tablets of ibuprofen, you realize a dog has relieved itself in there. At the after-match party your captain loudly and earnestly challenges the opposition players to a consolation game of Scrabble. Watching the match, your gal is inspired to bestow a nickname upon you, such as "Fifi."

2 - The good news: As usual, the opposition scrum-half is the smallest man on the side. The bad news: He is 6'3" and weighs a muscular 230 pounds, and you witness him bench-pressing one of the other players during the warm-up. Their haka is intimidating; you have never seen so many veins standing out so purplish and so far from so many necks. You miss a couple of tackles, which are caught on film for posterity by the sweetheart of one of the opposition players. This image will make it onto the front page of the other club's website. Your side loses by a wide margin. After the game you notice that your pained knee is making funny squeaking sounds, and a shoulderblade now does a funny clicky-clicky thing. The after-match social is held in a run-down section of town where the toothless locals gape at you. The barmaids are all overweight and named "Rita."

1 - When the referee calls for a boot check from the opposition players, you notice strips of decaying human flesh hanging off of some of the studs. The weather is cold and windy, and during play your body begins to shiver convulsively - just before someone makes a hospital pass to you. There are more paramedics on the field than props. You are injured and out of rugby for the next several weeks, causing the softball players at work to condescendingly ask if you'd prefer to play with them. You consider it. Your side loses by a double-digit to single-digit margin. At the after-match party, a toothless grinning hag of a barfly follows you around and declares you are the most attractive man she has ever met. When you slowly limp to your car, you find beer and vomit layered over a parking ticket on the windshield; the message "Good game!" has been fingerpainted thereon by an opposition player.

0 - The opposition side does a haka, during which the jersey tears away from the open side flanker's chest due to extreme muscular expansion. From this you can see that he used a broken bottle of Steinlager to carve "I (heart) New Zealand" upon his pecs. It is 90 degrees and humid, but this doesn't affect the opposition side because they are all Polynesians of immense stature who are used to it. They go into tackles with confident smiles on their tattooed faces. Some of them have filed their teeth to points, and the enduring image you have just before the fade to black occurs is the whites of their eyes. The members of your pack have been carried off the field and substitute backs are filling in. (Badly.) In tackles you and everyone else hear the unmistakable sound of major bones being fractured. You get beaten by a triple-digit to single-digit margin. You cannot enjoy the after-match party because you can't get your jaw open enough to drink anything save through a straw. When you watch a televised rugby match later that weekend in your hospital room, you could swear Jonah Lomu looked into the camera lens and gave you the finger. After you heal sufficiently you take up the offer of the softball players at work.

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