Hooker’s Diary - A black eye and beating but the rumours are worse

They sleep together, play together and share towels but they’re really just ‘good friends’. However this week one of them was more than happy to try out a new position

They sleep together, play together and share towels but they’re really just ‘good friends’. However this week one of them was more than happy to try out a new position

Don’t ever say you don’t get bang from your buck from The Hooker’s Diary.

This week’s column not only brings you coverage of two different games, a scandalously illicit relationship, some grievous bodily harm and something you unfortunately haven’t read too much about on these pages of late: a Bruff victory.

TUESDAY

With his spirits low after last weekend’s tight loss to Dungannon up in the North, my team-mate, front-row colleague, housemate and landlord, Dave, decided that he would take his mind off the disappointment by paying a visit to his granddad, who had recently been hospitalised.

As it happens, a grandaunt of mine also happened to be situated across the room from Dave’s grandfather in the same hospital ward, as she had just recently suffered from a fall herself. Dave said he spent some time explaining to his grandfather his connection – through my good self - with the lady across the way, but he wasn’t sure if he was successful in conveying his message by the time he had to leave for training. He did think that his grandfather had expressed unusually strong reservations about this housemate of his – i.e. Yours Truly - but thought no more of it by the time he was on the road to Bruff.

THURSDAY

It turns out Dave’s suspicions regarding his grandfather’s reservations were well-founded. While on our way out to Bruff again tonight to make our final preparations for this weekend’s Ulster Bank League game against UCD, Dave answered a phone call from his mother.

“Granddad says he’s worried about you,” she announced to Dave, who was seated in the passenger seat next to me.

“What’s he worried about?” Dave enquired with no small amount of curiosity.

“Well, in his own words,” she replied, “he says that he’s worried about Dave having no girlfriend, and living inside in Limerick with this “partner” of his.”

Dave broke into convulsions of raucous laughter, causing me to swerve and almost crash the car. The second near-death swerve occurred when he recounted to me the story of his grandfather’s misinterpretation of our living arrangements.

In his grandfather’s defence, Dave and I have been living together – in separate rooms - for quite some time now, we share two thirds of the same front row, spend an inordinate amount of time together, and I almost exclusively use his towels since I have lost all of mine in rugby clubs throughout the country. But aside from the odd misplaced hand inside a maul in training, our relationship has never ventured outside the established parameters of good old-fashioned platonic friendship.

I might add that Dave actually does have a girlfriend. The fact that elderly gentlemen are presuming I’m a predatory toyboy for their grandsons probably gives an insight into why this writer, however, is still single.

SATURDAY

We lost to UCD and I have no desire to recall the gory details so soon afterwards. Don’t be angry. You wouldn’t ask a crash victim for a blow-by-blow account of the incident on the way to the hospital.

SUNDAY

Normally Sunday mornings and afternoons consist of a big lie-in, occasionally elongated by a belly-full of beer, and capped off by a lovely fry-up. On occasion though you have the joy of playing a seconds game on a Sunday afternoon and today was one such occasion with our old rivals Nenagh making the trip to Kilballyowen for a north Munster seconds league match.

Another unfortunate feature of seconds games on a Sunday morning is that it can sometimes prove difficult to draft in players at a time of week that is not conducive to any kind of physical activity. To exemplify how drastic this problem can be, look no further than this particular fixture on Sunday. I found myself playing outside the safety of the forwards for the first time in my career, lining out in the centre.

At several instances throughout the game though, I would revert to type and wander back into the familiar surroundings of a ruck or maul with my heavier-set brethren. It was on one such occasion that I got into something of a disagreement with a Nenagh prop, a particularly grizzled looking fellow who looked as though he may have been entering the twilight of his playing days and was keen to leave his mark on the sport before it was too late.

Unfortunately today he decided to leave his mark on my groin and surrounding areas with his studs - something to which I took exception. I attempted to show him my displeasure with his invasion of my personal space by gentling nudging his face with my fist. In yet another unfortunate turn of events however, he mistook this for a punch and responded by giving me a black eye that would make Mike Tyson’s face tattoo look like a freckle. It’s safe to say he won the ‘disagreement’.

Bruff, however, won the game. If my positional switch proves to be the key to turning our season around, don’t rule out the possibility of this column becoming the Centre’s Diary in weeks to come.

>>> John also does a fortnightly podcast called Hoge ‘n’ Smith that can be downloaded on iTunes or from www.hogensmith.com