Nothing mini about players’ dedication and effort

Kelso sevens tournament at Poynder Park. Kelso Cougars win the interval match versus Duns.
Kelso sevens tournament at Poynder Park. Kelso Cougars win the interval match versus Duns.

So, the YM’s glorious mini-rugby career has ground to a shuddering halt. No, not because it’s the end of the season, but because of what could truly be called a ‘freak injury’.

A couple of weeks ago at training, he broke his wrist. Playing touch. Yes, touch. No, not felling a pie-lover twice his own size during a tournament, or whilst sailing over the white line with the grace of an Acapulco cliff diver and landing awkwardly on the ball with the roar of the crowd ringing in his ears.

No, he is – as one of his mini-rugby coaches said, in disbelief – the only player he has ever known who has broken his arm playing touch.

Truly, seriously unlucky. A real freak accident.

So, in an instant, his appearance at the last tournament of the season and the chance to play the Duns P7 squad just before the final of the Kelso 7s had evaporated. Gone.

Then came the shuddering reality that it was not only the end of the tournaments, the season, the chance to play before a 7s crowd. It was the end of his Kelso Cougars mini-rugby years.

He was, of course, completely gutted.

Injury robbed another two of his team-mates of the chance at that final appearance, denying them that final glory day when their team went running out at Poynder on the main pitch, just like the first XV.

But they still went up with their team-mates after the match to get their winners’ medals and take the cheers and applause from not only spectators and watching 7s players, but also from proud parents and coaches who have supported them through thick and thin.

Sure, there have been other disappointments along the way. The matches that started so well ... and ended sooo badly. Those stomach-churning days when boys ended up hurt and crumpled, with trips to A&E, and even, on rare and extremely worrying occasions, lying flat on a cold, damp field waiting for an ambulance so they could get checked out, as a precaution.

The days when they they were so cold or so wet they felt like packing it all in and taking up something innocuous indoors, like chess or origami.

For any parent who has stood on the touchline, toes frozen solid, shouting for their child at the top of their lungs, or stuffed a chocolate bar, bag of crisps, yoghurt and a banana into a boot bag to stave off the hunger pangs on a freezing day at a tournament, or laced up a sobbing child’s boots after they’ve had a stud in the ankle, you’re a total hero.

And for every coach who has been a combination of physio, PE teacher, sergeant major, first-aider, keeper of the secret sweetie stash, mum/dad, you are also a hero.

An unpaid and yet priceless commodity.

And for every Borders mini-rugby P7 pupil who has ever dared to dream that they are the next Ross Ford or Stuart Hogg, it has been a pleasure watching you at the tournaments and games over the last few years as you’ve grown in confidence and skills.

I hope to be seeing you playing high school rugby at the end of the summer. I’ll be the one with the hoarse voice, hopping from chilly foot to chilly foot, with a Mars bar or two in my pocket.