Monday, 28 September 2015

The Rugby World Cup comes to town

The Rugby World Cup rolled into Leeds this weekend.  And it was magnificent.

The fun began at Aireborough Rugby Club on Friday evening when the entire USA squad called in to say hello.

And nothing was too much trouble for them.

At times they seemed even more excited than the kids, who felt like they were walking on air.

They won a lot of friends and, I suspect, stole a few hearts while they were at it.  Absolute respect.

The first of the weekend's two games was on Saturday, when Italy took on Canada at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United.

The fun began before we left Guiseley when Jamie met some travelling Italian fans.

Joined by my rugby mad Kiwi friend Hayden and in a first for me, we had a pic taken with a man-sized rugby ball.

Before this walked off the train from Edinburgh.

Yes, everyone has a pal named Dave and this one is mine.  

Despite the garb, he's actually from Northern Ireland.  We went to school together and I'm a proud but poor godfather to his son, Huw.  

He wore his kilt for the entire weekend, assisted by Sudocrem.  

Italy were fortunate to triumph in an entertaining game.

Most importantly, Jamie loved it - giving me an excuse to get to more rugby matches in the future.   

Dave and I were back again on Sunday to see Scotland take on our new American friends.  

Thankfully, Dave blended into the crowd much better than the previous day as Scotland won by a distance.

Then it was off to the Fan Zone to see Ireland stuff Romania on the big screen.

And, in a final treat, we bumped into Scottish rugby hero turned administrator John Jeffrey. 

He's a bit of a legend, old John.  A farmer by trade, he once expressed his one regret about the location of his land on the Scottish borders: "If I stand on a hill I can see England."

He also famously received a six-month ban from the sport after he and England's Dean Richards damaged the one of the oldest trophies in sport, the Calcutta Cup, after playing football with it in Edinburgh city centre.    

A terrific end to a wonderfully memorable weekend.  

And, sticking with the rugby theme, there's one more thing.  Yesterday my old team mate and captain Mark Buchanan posted a picture on Facebook which made me feel old and nostalgic in equal measure.

It's the 1991 Northumberland Colts County Cup Winners, Newcastle Gosforth RFC.  We had a great night.