Back playing at last
April 8, 2010
Wasps' Tom Rees tests the London Irish defence in only his second game back from a lengthy lay-off © Getty Images
Firstly, for those who read and enjoy this column (Mum) - apologies for the lack of an entry a fortnight ago. This was down to two very good reasons. Number one, it was due in the week that I was making my return to rugby after 11 months out through injury and I was a bit pre-occupied. And number two, and if I'm honest the more major reason, my computer is broken.
Seeing as my name is about the only thing I can write by hand these days I was never going to manage to get something together, although it turns out it is possible to live without access to the internet - but you spend your time watching pointless TV rather than browsing pointless sites. However, through the gift of an old laptop from the Wasps media department that has a spacebar with a mind of its own, normal service can resume.
I'll come to my return to rugby in a moment, but first there is the matter of my predictions surrounding the conclusion of the Six Nations. The penultimate weekend wasn't too bad, if a bit obvious. France beat Italy, Ireland beat Wales and the game I sat on the fence for, England v Scotland was a draw. The final week however, I said Wales would narrowly beat Italy, and they walked it. I said Ireland would beat Scotland and the Scots finally got a well deserved victory. I said England would beat France, but despite their best performance of the tournament, they didn't.
So in the end France were worthy Grand Slam champions - proving me wrong in the process - Italy keep improving but remain drawn to the Wooden Spoon, and everyone else filled the space in between. Overall, I thought it was an entertaining tournament this year with a few highs and lows along the way. The task for the Home Nations now will be to re-focus on the summer tours and with the Rugby World Cup starting to loom on the horizon, make sure they are developing their squads and challenging the southern hemisphere.
It was the April 19, 2009 the last time that I played a competitive game of rugby. It was away at Bristol and I was doing my damndest to book a place on the Lions tour to South Africa that summer. After 24 minutes I felt things were going reasonably well, but come minute 25 it all changed. I was carrying the ball up from a lineout and in the resulting tackle took a heavy blow to my right shoulder that, while I didn't know it at the time, would keep me out of rugby for nearly a year.
After the game up at Franklins Gardens two weeks ago, it was an odd moment for me. We had put in a vastly improved performance against Northampton who are one of the form teams in the Guinness Premiership, but had still lost an important game and one we could well have won. There was a huge amount of disappointment in the dressing room, but I couldn't help but feel elated.
As I have mentioned in previous entries to this column I went through some difficult times during my rehabilitation and even went as far as to consider giving up playing, but when the game kicked off all the hard work had been worth it come Sunday morning, and despite feeling like I had been hit by a truck and then reversed over for good measure the sense of delight hadn't waned and I allowed myself a day on the sofa (although I couldn't have moved anywhere else if I'd wanted to) to think about it all. This was only interrupted in the evening when one of the UK Sport drugs testers turned up for a routine random test, and despite the inconvenience it was a welcome reminder that things keep moving on. As pleased as I was to be back, it was only one game and there are a few more to go before the end of the season.
Up next for Wasps was a vital game against London Irish last weekend, and the team produced one of our best performances of the season. In picking up a try bonus point we also denied one of our closest rivals for the play-offs any points. We know that we have to win all our remaining Premiership games to give ourselves the best chance of staying in the top four including our final home game of the season, the St Georges Day game at Twickenham on April 24. There is also the matter of the European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Gloucester this Sunday at Adams Park which will be a massive knock out game for both clubs. It's going to be an incredibly tight and exciting finish to the season, and I desperately want it to be a winning one. I will admit though, there is a small bit of me that is just happy to be out there.
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