Monday, February 15, 2010

High japes

If you can't go for a drunken drive down the motorway in a golf buggy after coming back from ten points down with four minutes to go to win a rugby international 31-24, when can you?

The alleged low-speed 6am joy ride by Andy Powell, the Wales flanker, a few hours after his side's miraculous comeback against Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday will inevitably be met with stiff punishment.

Powell and a friend were picked up by police at a service station near Junction 33 of the M4 after having apparently stolen the golf cart from the Vale of Glamorgan hotel where the Wales team were staying.

Apart from possible criminal charges, Powell faces disciplinary action from Wales and there is talk of a life ban, which would be a bit over the top. Off-field japes should not influence selection, although there would be grounds for dropping Powell because of a collapse in his form this season.

Rugby players have always done dim things when celebrating victory. While this escapade could have been a disaster, no one was ultimately hurt and part of me (the part that hypocritically would be calling for a life ban if a footballer had done this) would like Powell to get off with just a stern telling off and apology.

Here are a few other notable post-match acts of drunken lunacy by rugby players, who by and large escaped severe punishment. Powell should be judged in their company.

The 1968 Lions: Renowned more for the quality of their drinking than their rugby, they lost three of their four internationals against South Africa but partied hard after each game, trashing hotel rooms across the country, with a particular fondness for breaking beds. After enthusiastically showing off his rucking at one party, Willie John McBride, the Ireland lock, needed eight stitches in a leg and two in a finger.

At another party, in Cape Town, the players caused such damage to the hotel that the owner presented the Lions with a bill for £900. Being a rugby fan, he had only charged them for a quarter of the damage and as the Lions manager paid off the rest, he sniffed: "Huh, couldn't have been much of a party!" McBride went on to captain and manage the Lions.

John Jeffrey and Dean Richards: After the Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield in 1988, Jeffrey and Richards, opposing back rows for Scotland and England respectively, decided to take the trophy for a post-dinner kickabout on Princes Street. Apparently by the time they had finished punting it to each other, the 108-year-old silver cup more resembled a plate and it cost £1,000 to repair. Jeffrey was given a six-month ban by Scotland. England, more generously, gave Richards a one-game ban.

Colin Smart: Not the most apt name for a player. Smart was the victim of a prank at a post-match dinner in Paris in 1982 where the players had each been given a complimentary bottle of aftershave. Maurice Colclough, the England lock, threw away the cologne and filled the bottle with white wine, which he then ostentatiously drank. Thinking this was a dare and not realising that Colclough had ditched the scent, Smart decided to do the same and drank a whole bottle of aftershave. Within an hour, he was having his stomach pumped in hospital. But apparently his breath smelt lovely.


Angus said...

Hilarious blog – nice one Patrick!

How can they seriously contemplate a life ban for a few high jinks by Powell? What red-blooded British male can put their hand on their heart and say that they have never, ever done a totally foolish, even dangerous thing after a well-earned celebration. I know I can't!

More power to your elbow, Kidd.

Rich Abbott said...

Brilliant. Was unfamiliar with most of those stories. For some reason I find it oddly comforting that some of the pros still behave like their sixth-form/university counterparts from time to time.