Round about the autumn of 1990, following a bit of a health shock, aka rolling round the bed clutching his chest followed by some apparently very entertaining stent work, my husband found himself on an extended sabbatical from work. Astonishingly, he was at a loss as to how to while away the hours in a time that hadn’t quite yet grown accustomed to the day-defeating internet and moped around considerably.
“Well, what have you enjoyed in your life before we came to Lowton?” I nudged, and aside from beer, rugby came close to the top of the list, “okay, there’s your answer, get involved in rugby again, maybe coach some lads or start a team.”
And so, off to the nearest field for the next four Saturdays marched he, unwavering in his determination to pass on some of his bread basket and scrummage busting skills to the next generation.
The first Saturday saw one lonely lad, the second three then one then two. On the fourth, I’d gone along for moral support and two young girls also happened along, leaned on the civic wall and settled in to survey the scene.
“Yo! What you doing?” demanded the first, none too coyly.
“Ouf,” replied he, a tad out of breath, “rugby skills.”
“Oh, will you teach us then?” asked small girl #2.
“No. It’s not for girls." definitively, "you’ll get hurt,” and having been enlightened by tales of bitten-off ears, I was inclined to agree.
There followed a few volleys culminating in talk to the hand before the two grumbled off presumably to copper up 95p for ten Regal.
Later that night, nicely chilling with a big glass of home brew and a Maximillian’s pizza in front of Gladiators, we spotted a veritable crocodile of smallish girls of varying heights and hairdo’s making their way up the drive frowns on, chins out, and as they hammered on the front door, briefly considered nipping out the back window.
Having neither the agility nor the puff we didn’t and answered the door instead as a mid-sized girl in overalls and a slap bracelet thrust out a tattered piece of cardboard which read
WE DEMAND YOU TEACH US TO PLAY
with fifteen inexpert signatures scrawled underneath - enough for a full team and a pair of spares.
How could he resist?
And so, among the brand new, fast growing movement of girls’ and women’s rugby, sporting such respect- demanding names as Ravens, Warriors and Panthers, the girls, in a nod to their spelling, for the next few years, became known as the Lowton Rubies.