by Mike Levitt
belly begins to hang over your belt, and a couple
flights of stairs taxes your cardio, rugby is
probably no longer your ideal sport. In contrast
to that theory, we mustered an odd-sod band of
middle-aged men from the little community of
Williams Lake, and called ourselves the Rustlers.
Our primary destination was Vancouver, to watch
Canada play a rugby match with England. Wed
made arrangements for a game of our own, with
another old boys team, the Evergreens. Wed
play the Saturday morning old boys game at
Brockton Oval then watch the big international.
of dusty pick-ups and SUVs found its way to
the bright lights of the city and the festivity
of our successful arrival was celebrated well
into the night.
Oval, next morning, a fog lingered over the wet
grass and our pregame warm-up was far less
exuberant than the previous nights social.
There was no sign of the other team. We stood in
a circle, tossed a ball around, told a few jokes,
and some of us reached gingerly for our toes. A
classic old boys warm up.
One of the
boys pointed to the other side of the field.
Look at that. We all looked. Then
stared. Silence. From out of the tunnel
marched a team of huge muscular men. Their kit
was pristine. They trotted into a well-rehearsed
drill and executed clean crisp passing. Multiple
balls flew in all directions.
There comes a
time when the balance of camaraderie and the
instinct of self-preservation comes into play.
Love of the game and loyalty are undermined by
the cold trickle of fear. The man next to me took
a feeble kick at the ball and went down with a
hamstring pull. One of our boys headed for the
car park and called out, I forgot my boots
at the hotel.
I mustered my
waning courage and walked across the battleground
to meet our foe. As I drew closer the more
imposing they became.
myself and asked, You the Evergreens?
I spoke into the mans chest.
mate, he said. This bunch, having our
morning stretch. Were England.
England! I hollered back to our boys. Venue
mix up. The relief was immediate. The boys
thumped each other on the back and said it would
have been a good match. Too bad. In the giddiness
of the moment I suggested to the big Brit that we
have a quick game. Weve got Canada at
two oclock, he smiled and declined my
played our game with the Evergreens. England
went on to defeat Canada and our squad returned
Lake Tribune, in the true spirit of a small town
newspaper, ran our story. England had
declined our challenge, so the traditional
default score was the result. Five nil. The
headline: Rustlers Old Boys Defeat England.