So, They Pass the Ball Backwards.

  Saturday began with rugby and ended with pancakes, and Amsterdam was a wonderful host in between. But yeah, it really did start with rugby.   This uncle of mine once taught 6 innocent young girls, myself included, the tune and lyrics to a very dirty, dirty rugby song. We committed every word to memory in a matter of minutes and have been known to break out into song in very public places ever since. It’s so inappropriate. Never gets old. That said, I had never seen a rugby game, start to finish, until Saturday. With my dad and uncle as former players of the sweaty and ruthless sport, I jumped at the chance to catch a game on TV. An Australian pub in Leiden is showing every World Cub game this season (match? fixture? tournament?) and so The Duke of Oz is where a group of us met at 8 am.

   Walking into the pub was like walking into a warm and cozy cave; there was a cool mist in the air when I cycled along the canal that morning. Guys donned jerseys and nursed strong koffies. The old regulars were parked in what looked to be their own seats – a spot along the bar, a corner by the television, on the worn leather couch. The two bartenders gave knowing, welcoming nods to us as we walked in. At half, they walked around offering free handmade cheese sandwiches for everyone, genuinely spreading the good spirit of the game around the room. The crowd was mainly Dutch, with a sprinkling of people from South Africa, Australia, Greece. We got loud when South Africa scored, which was often, and celebrated their win together.

Vasso from Greece & Ruth from Australia, both were born in South Africa. They also know way more about rugby than me!

  A sports game of any kind has this intrinsic ability to bring different nationalities out of their own woodwork and into one pub. It can act as a common language; the game becomes this “third thing” and complete strangers find themselves rooting for the same team, together. Refs make calls and points are won and plays play out, and there’s a magic in the shared experience, I think.

Father, proof I was there, watched the whole game. You played an awesome sport: 

I loved it, heading back on Thursday.


3 responses to “So, They Pass the Ball Backwards.

  1. Jack Keenan

    Wonderful chance to see you and talk to you today. It didn’t seem like six hours difference. You look healthy and well (same thing, I guess).

    I came back this evening for a great dinner. Watched the Emmy’s. I don’t watch any of the shows….but it was fun to look at all the gorgeous girls.

    Oh….this afternoon an old and I mean old….friend of mine….he was in our S-3 section in the army….called me and announced that he had just turned 99 years old. Honest. Dick Dellheim from Philadelphia. We call each other every year during the holidays. This is the first time he has called this time of year. 99 years! And I think I’m hot stuff at 92!

    Remember your Dad’s sticker on the back of his car? “Give blood…play Rugby”!



  2. Trish

    Did you ever see the movie “Invictus” when we came out a couple of years ago? It was about the World Cup when it was held in South Africa just after Mandela became head of his country. The team was white and the team captain played by Matt Damon worked to get the players and the Mandela supporters united. You might want to watch it during the World Cup.
    Bars are wonderful places–you get a real feel of the people of a town or country in a bar. Enjoy!!!

  3. Paul Rich

    “Charlelotte the Harlot” would be so proud of you!!!

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