Oh, the injustice of it all!
After being hauled down inches short of the line after running the whole length of the field in my last match (I did say the distance would get further as time went on), I was once again denied a try yesterday, this time by a hapless referee who erroneously blew up for a forward pass by our scrum half, Steve. As I was the recipient of the "scoring" pass I am 100% certain that the pass went backwards, and I must say the opposition looked as mystified as I did when a scrum was awarded.
We were playing at home to a strong Fullerians Vets team who we matched upfront all game but who certainly had the better of us when the ball was spun out to their suspiciously speedy back division. My non-try happened early in the second half when we were 19-5 down. We had conceded 3 fairly sloppy 1st half tries tries (one of which, ironically, featuring a blatantly forward pass which pretty much everyone except the referee acknowledged), whilst we had crossed for a try ourselves, our lock Harvey having taken time out from whingeing at the referee to drive over from close range.
In many ways I felt sorry for the referee. Not only was he expected to apply new laws that obviously neither he nor the 30 participants on the field agreed with, he was also clearly under instructions to apply the letter of the law at the breakdown, with the inevitable result that there was a penalty awarded at nearly every other ruck. It's all very well being strict at the elite level to prevent the likes of Munster running down of the clock by keeping possession via an elongated series of rucks, but at grassroots level a certain amount of common sense and leeway is required - we don't fall over in rucks to kill the ball, we fall over because we're knackered.
The game therefore descended into a stop-start affair which was pretty unsatisfactory for all concerned, but I was still pretty shocked by the level of whingeing at the referee from both teams. He didn't cover himself in glory by any means but he didn't have an easy job and the constant moaning really did nothing to help. Lord knows from where the culprits found the energy to talk so much. For me it certainly made the game less enjoyable - not only isn't it how I was taught to play the game, it's also totally pointless - as Ulster coach Matt Williams remarked this weekend, talking to the referee is like complaining to your mother-in-law about your wife - it gets you nowhere.
In terms of my own form I'd say I had a so-so game. I felt in much better shape than 3 weeks ago so the recent painful forays to circuit training must have helped and I made a number of half-breaks and offloads, but my work at the breakdown is still way too tentative and my tackling too passive - so plenty to work on next time.
Final score? Well according the ref it was Chesham 5 Fullerians "quite a lot" - and it's true we fell apart somewhat in the last 15 minutes when they must have crossed for at least 4 tries - very disappointing really as we'd been pretty competitive until that point.
Next up is a trip to Tring on 22nd November and, who knows, maybe even a first win?