Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Blaydon Hit New Heights When It Comes to Excuses

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Blaydon Hit New Heights When It Comes to Excuses

Article excerpt

Byline: TRY TIME Rugby talk with MARK SMITH

I HAVE heard some excuses in my time for selection or omission of players, but Blaydon are raising the bar just now.

Firstly, lock-forward Shaun English returns to the National One fold tomorrow at Worthing, named on the bench for the 680-mile round trip after missing their last two encounters.

The reason? He was away playing in a Sevens tournament - for the Barbados national team. If Carlsberg did rugby!

This came hot on the heels of club captain Keith Laughlin being sidelined, the fellow lock-forward injuring his hand doing a flip during a gymnastics session after Blaydon were rained off from their rugby schedule.

Laughlin too returns to the bench tomorrow, where he will sit alongside Micky Ward. The director of rugby has recalled himself to Blaydon's replacement contingent for what the ex-Newcastle Falcons prop refers to as "logistical reasons". By that, he means the club are travelling to the south coast and back in peoplecarriers rather than a team bus, and Ward is required to drive one of the vehicles.

Taking only himself and one of his assistant coaches in a scaled-down management team, it was a simple case of which of the coaching staff could play and drive in a bid to keep the numbers down.

But these are the realities in semi-pro and amateur rugby, where work, weddings, school trips and all manner of sideshows regularly rule players into or out of selection.

The best one last season had to be the absence of South African scrum-half Zylon McGaffin from the Darlington Mowden Park team, forced to return home to re-apply for his passport after his friend's dog ate the original.

Even the professional game has had its fair share of mishaps.

In my time working at Newcastle Falcons we spent a good hour parked up at Washington Services awaiting the arrival of one of our players who had locked himself INSIDE his own flat, and had to climb out of the window. …

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