When I first decided to write this piece, I wanted to portray my rugby experience in Perth but what I ended up doing was writing a 3 or 4 page article about my time playing for Perth Bayswater RFC and some of the differences between Irish club rugby and that of the style played in Western Australia. So after reading over it a tortuous amount of times I decided not to publish it, it was too much like an autobiography chapter, after all, I’m no Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Connell.
What I have decided to do instead is list the difference between being part of an Irish Rugby team and an Australian Rugby team:
Ireland: Preseason starts from the end of June and the season goes on until April. If you are lucky, you might get the first couple of League games in September rain free but after that its rain, hail, sleet, snow and worst of all the winter winds that cut through you on a cold Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Australia (Oz): Preseason starts in November, the height of the Summer, 34-35 degrees and you’re being asked to do sprints, shuttles, circuit training, deadlift full kegs of water and pull or push slabs of concrete up and down the pitch, while the buckets of sweat sting the eyeballs out of your sockets. You get your wet days too but they are few and far between in Perth.
Ireland: Lads walk in with their gear bags, give a general ‘Well Lads’ and go about their business.
Oz: Lads walk in, everyone is greeted individually either by handshake, hi-5 or fist bump or hug. Trying to figure out what each person favours is the hardest part, to avoid the awkwardness of missing each other’s hand by committing to the wrong handshake.
Ireland: Similar to the weather situation, you are knee deep in S#1t for most of the season.
Oz: Rain or Shine the ground is solid, the ‘mouldys’ are a must!
Ireland: When a team acquires a New Zealand Maori or Pacific Islander, the team usually does well, as their natural powerful physique enables them to usually power over us spud fuelled Irish lads, if you get hit, you know all about it.
Oz: In most Australian teams (well in Perth anyway) you can expect to have at least 10/12 Maoris or Islanders in a team, there’s no avoiding the hits, whether giving or receiving the tackle. You don’t be long about toughening up, saying that though, the hits don’t get any less painful, you just get used to them.
The Social Side:
Ireland: It’s very hard to get bodies through the gates at club games, as a player you are usually relying on family or past players to make up the numbers in the stand. The rest are either in the clubhouse getting themselves soup or a hot whiskey or else at home preparing themselves for the nights festivities after the game depending on the result.
Oz: The rugby on a Saturday is a big event every week for the home team, from 11.30am starting with the U18’s, you have every grade from 4th, 3rd, 2nd, up until the 1st team game at 3pm. Family and friends gather early at the club with their blankets, Eskys (cooler box) and have their beers and grub while enjoying the sun and a feast of local rugby. All activities end early enough (8pm-ish), everyone has their few after game beers and head home.
There are plenty more differences I could go on about, like the difference in style of play, but most differences are caused by the weather or weather related. It was great to spend a year playing in Australia for Perth Bayswater RFC but now I’m back and coming to terms with having to deal with soggy boots again but I’m looking forward to it (kind of).