TRISH TAKES FIVE: By award-winning blogger Trish Burgess
Our son, Rory, played a blinder recently when, as a birthday present, he bought his dad two tickets for the World Rugby Sevens tournament at Twickenham.
Unable to go himself, as he is currently taking his second year university exams, he thought his mum and dad would enjoy going together, knowing how much we enjoyed the Rugby World Cup last year.
Created in the 1880s by two Melrose butchers who needed to raise funds for their club, rugby sevens has steadily increased in popularity and, since 1999, there has been an annual world tournament. This year’s series began in Dubai in December and its final venue was London.
In previous years many fans had attended in fancy dress. We were under the impression that this had been banned for 2016 but on arrival discovered that rules had been relaxed and unofficially the theme was ‘Under the Sea’. Thankfully it was too late for Dougie to return home to unearth his Spongebob Squarepants costume.
Taking our seats in the stadium, we realised that most people attending were happily wearing their team shirts and waving national flags, with the odd prawn or two adding a bit of colour to the occasion.
I like rugby but I was soon to discover that I love rugby sevens. Seven-a-side, seven minutes each half and packed full of excitement. The games are quicker, with the average number of seconds between each try only 70 seconds: all the thrill of normal rugby without the slow bits. Plus, the players are all extraordinarily athletic: very easy on the eye.
Dougie was delighted that Scotland, having played well on the Saturday, were still in with a slim chance for the cup. In their opening match against England on Sunday morning, we watched as they hammered the home side 17-0. I switched allegiance at this point and became Scottish for the rest of the day.
With so many fans dressed in the colours of the 15 nations competing, Dougie and I were feeling under-dressed so rummaged around the stadium’s shop. On the sale rail were Scotland shirts from the 2015 World Cup. All sizes were available so they obviously hadn’t been popular in Twickenham. Going for a tenner each, we grabbed two and proudly wore them, hoping the good fortune would continue.
We thought Scotland would get a pasting from the very able team from the USA but remarkably the boys in blue continued to drive forward and won 24-17. They were now in the final against South Africa.
With a minute left on the clock and Scotland trailing 26-15, it looked inevitable that South Africa would win. But then Dougie Fife scored a superb try and it was converted just before the final whistle. Winning the restart, play continued and unbelievably Fife scored another. Scotland snatched victory, 27-26.
The South African fans in front of us were devastated, the English and Fijians around us were dumbfounded. Dougie, like his match-winning namesake, was joyous. After so many years of Scottish heroic failures on the pitch, they had succeeded, in spectacular fashion.
The best birthday present ever.
You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk