Games Afternoons - Chris Snuggs ('58 to '64)

I worked and lived in Quimper, Brittany for a number of years, and our son Robin was born there in 2000. Rugby is not as strong in Brittany as in some other areas, but there was a local team nevertheless. One Saturday when he was about 9 I took him there and he joined the other youngsters under the direction of a coach while I sat and watched. He spent the next two hours doing various exercises, passing the ball, running in and out of posts like a skiing slalom and so on.

At the end of the session we went home. He hadn't been impressed and I was disappointed, too, because it made me think back to WHS games afternoons. I may be wrong (don't laugh) but I do not remember hour upon hour of exercises and drills up on Church Field. My abiding memories are of playing practice games. Of course, Taffy would frequently stop the game and tell us what was wrong - and I am sure we did some discrete bits of individual skills-practice from time to time. But I for one looked forward to PLAYING THE GAME.

We never went back to the local club ....

And thinking of Taffy as a coach, I am reminded of the things he used to hammer into us. Here is my list, but have I forgotten anything?

  • marking your man
  • tackling LOW
  • in the threes, lying DEEP
  • running into SPACE
  • DRAWING the man before passing
  • getting the ball to the wing as FAST as possible
  • FALLING on the ball (he was very hot on that)
  • grubber kicks - which seem to me less common in rugby these days than the ubiquitous up-and-unders: I don't remember Taffy liking those AT ALL!

PS There was one exception I remember to the training senario discussed above. It must have been the first games afternoon after the summer holidays in 1963 - and so the 63-64 academic year when I was entering the Lower VIth. He had us on the pitch in front of Halls House running up and down, in and out, here and there for at least an hour. Now, we had just had a long summer break, and I for one had done very little exercise, or at least of the sort needed for rugby. I remember the next day being hardly able to walk, and it took a week to recover! I thought at the time that was a bit ill-advised, but with Taffy one invariably followed orders without question. I can't remember whether other boys suffered like me after that session; I imagine they did, but in any case we just had to get on with it!