Thursday, 1 May 2008

Vets Focus: Y Gogs

Welcome to a new feature on Total Flanker in which I, rather self-indulgently, focus on some random thing or other that has caught my eye in the world of Veterans rugby.

This week (or month, or year - as I've no idea how regular this will be) it's Y Gogs.

"Y Gogs?" I hear you cry. "What in heaven's name is Y Gogs?"

Well, I'm glad you asked, because Y Gogs is a rugby team from North Wales who have embraced "Oldies" rugby with a passion. The name Y Gogs stands for Geriatrics o Gymru which, for those like me whose Welsh language skills are a little rusty, translates as "Geriatrics from Wales." The team is based at Clwb Rygbi Caernarfon (that's Caernarfon R.F.C. to you and me) - Caernarfon being a town where, apparently, 87% of the population speak the Welsh language (which explains the name).

Formed in 1993 to attend the International Golden Oldies Festival in Dublin, Y Gogs have since travelled the world enjoying Oldies Rugby, taking in International Golden Oldies Festivals in Christchurch,Vancouver, Cape Town, Toulouse and Brisbane as well as EGOR (European Golden Oldies Rugby) Festivals in Benidorm and Zurich (where they were awarded the ‘Battered Relic Cup’ for the team which reflects the spirit of the festival). No doubt they'll also be showing their ageing faces at this June's EGOR Festival in Madeira and at the International Golden Oldies Festival in Edinburgh in September.

Before looking into this I wasn't fully aware of what "Oldies" rugby involved - I'd assumed it was the same as Veterans rugby (i.e. over 35s), which I've found to be exactly the same as "normal" rugby except that it's a bit slower and, occasionally, played in a better spirit. Oldies rugby, however (at least under EGOR), appears to have its own unique set of laws including such gems as: all 8 forwards must remain bound in the scrum until the ball has been cleared; the scrum half must not follow the ball around the scrum; scrums must be uncontested; defending players may kick the ball only in their own 22; there are no quick lineouts and no lifting; and, my favourite, no player may run more than 20 metres before passing the ball. I hope the proponents of the ELVs are taking notes!

Furthermore, there are restrictions on tackling 'older' players who are identified by wearing specific coloured shorts and, at EGOR Festivals, competitiveness is discouraged, the results of games not being listed (so, pretty similar to sport in Britain's schools if the Daily Mail is to be believed).

So, having established that Y Gogs is an Oldies rugby team, what is it about them that merits their inclusion in my esteemed blog? It's not as if there are any famous names on the team's roster (although apparently the likes of Brynmor Williams, Gareth Davies and Jonathan Davies have not refused the offer of a trial!), their players being the usual collection of blokes in their 40’s, mostly 50’s and a few zimmer frames in their 60’s. No, what's notable about Y Gogs is that, in 2010, they will host the 10th European Golden Oldies Rugby Festival.

Yes, in 2 years' time teams from all parts of the continent will be making their way to Caernarfon, a town famous for its castle's all (I should know - I spent many a summer's afternoon as a boy in a cramped car with my Mum, Dad, Grandmother and brother eating ice cream looking up at the grey castle walls as the rain lashed down). That will mean some 1000 players and supporters will descend on Caernarfon over the four days of the festival.

All I can say to that is congratulations to Y Gogs and to Caernarfon for winning the bid to stage the festival and to all those planning to take part - enjoy your ice cream! :)

Click here for more on Y Gogs and the Festival.


David said...

Gogledd(welsh) - North
Gog - vernacular, inhabitant of, person born in North Wales eg. Robin McBride, Bigdai

Total Flanker said...

Thanks Dai - where in N. Wales are you from?

BigDai said...

Rhewl-Mostyn, Half way between Rhyl and Prestatyn