‘Murt stares at me, obviously seeing there’s depths to me, depths that probably don’t actually exist’
W e’re getting our orses kicked. We’re being given a serious, serious rugby lesson. Which is portly down to me telling the goys that St Gerard’s of Bray would be a pushover. I’d be the first to admit that I got a bit carried away with my team talk.
“Bray!” I went, channelling the late, great Fr Fehily. “Where it’s bright for only four hours of every day and the only occupations are sucking petrol from cars at traffic lights and slapping the left-handedness out of children.”
I told them that this was a 20-point match, thinking with, like, my hort rather than my head.
And now, midway through the second half, we’re nine points down and it’s an actual miracle that it’s only that many.
Yeah, no, we’ve been cleaned out in the lineout. Destroyed in the scrum. Our backs can’t string three passes together without knocking on. And Eugene Cowser, my number 10, couldn’t kick a blind man’s stick away the way he’s playing today.
His old man – the dude who hired me to coach the actual Institute – is getting on his case as well. He’s going, “It was in front of the bloody posts, Eugene! You should be putting those ones over with your eyes closed!” and, “Think! Think before you do something, for God’s sake!”
I can see that it’s getting to the kid as well. He’s disappearing from the match with every passing minute. You can see that he doesn’t even want the ball.
“Where’s your pride?” his old man is shouting at him “Where’s your bloody well pride?”
That’s when I decide to have a word.
“Murt,” I go, sidling up to him. “Can I talk to you?”
He’s there, “Talk to me? Wouldn’t your time be better spent coming up with a way of turning this match around?” and he makes a big point of looking at his watch. “We’re
20 minutes away from being knocked out here.”
“You’re putting Eugene off,” I go, calling it – one of the things I’d be famous for. “You’re killing his confidence.”
“Well, someone needs to talk to him. How many kicks has he missed today?”
“Three! None of them difficult! If he’d got them, we’d be bloody well level!”
“There was this thing that Fr Fehily used to say to us back in the day whenever we were playing badly. ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Conversion. Another try. Another conversion. Drop goal.’”
Murt looks at me just blankly. He’s like, “What the hell does that mean?”
I’m there, “It means stop kicking the shit out of yourself when there’s still time to do something about the situation. But, I have to say, you’re not helping. In fact, Dude, you’re the reason Eugene’s like a jelly out there.”
Murt is not a contented temporary tent dweller when he hears that. He goes, “Do I need to remind you how much I’m paying you to coach this team?”
I’m there, “You’re paying me 10Ks a week. For that, you get my expertise, my hord work and my loyalty to the Institute of Education. But you don’t get me.”