David Flatman: Sorry I missed the hat-trick... I was busy chewing grass

View from down under with the England prop

A tour is not a tour until games have been played. And now they have, so we're off. Just under an hour and a half of sport for me in midweek meant so many different things for so many different reasons. For the trip itself, as an event, it brings it to life, makes it real. But as well as playing the part of a (somewhat tardy) starter's pistol, it was England versus the Aussies.

Despite the fact that, seemingly, it was not important enough to be televised, this was yet another sporting contest to which the men involved offered every single iota of effort their bodies would allow. Every training session, every word spoken by a helpful coach or a loving parent or an omniscient commentator had led us to this point and, as is only right, those fortunate enough to have been delivered to this place in time committed to give it all to the cause.

The game was incredibly fast, with both sides seemingly intent on having a go from anywhere. Every error was pounced upon by the opposition and never was there any attempt to disguise the ambition in mind. Being objective, one might say there were a few too many mistakes for this game to be labelled a classic but mistakes only ruin a game if they mean no points are scored and if they are cause for play to continually be halted. Neither happened here. 28-28 says enough, I think, of the spirit in which the game was played.

Both sides wanted desperately to win and, inevitably, this meant that when points were on offer we wanted to take them. With Olly Barkley on the field it would be silly not to, unless you're an Australian, of course. Every time we opted to kick for goal they booed and jeered, even being joined by one of the home players at one point! The tables were turned, however, when in the second half we had mounted a brilliant comeback and they pointed at the sticks themselves. A point I did not forget to make to the offending individual at the next ruck.

To play for England again brought back a lot of great memories. OK, so it was not the Test team I was in but we still put on the right shirt and sang the right anthem. Players from rival teams came together to compete against one of England's oldest sporting enemies and it felt right. It felt like we would have done anything not to lose to those men (though, in honesty, they were a good bunch when we met them afterwards). Of course, they felt the same and that was what made it, I imagine, a great spectacle for those on the sidelines. The vibe in the dressing room before kick-off was a lot like it is at club level; loud music, endless boxes of kit for any body part you can think of and large bodies strewn all over the floor stretching whatever muscles feel tight. I was lucky enough to change next to Lee Mears. I don't know what it was that stunted his growth at the age of eight but, as long as we are in the same team, I am grateful as I had all the room in the world. Playing for Bath I sit next to Danny Grewcock, so you can do the maths.

Once the result was decided, I felt my phone vibrating with messages of differing tones. Some were congratulatory, others were despairing, but all were appreciated. One friend, following the game from his home in Miami, asked me what it was like to play against hat-trick hero James O'Connor. "Oh, did he score?" I replied, "Didn't notice". I wasn't joking. Now I think about it, he rings a bell, but during the match he could have dressed up as Mick Dundee and I might have missed it. This is the life of a prop; one's proudest sporting moments so often flash by while one is busy chewing grass in the hope it contains some oxygen. Mind you, if it wasn't me, somebody else would have to do it and I'd only wish my job on the most deserving of enemies.

The only thing left to do is beat the Aussies, then. The only good thing to come out of a draw is that it isn't a loss, and that offers little consolation to the first-class athlete. We are here to win matches but to do so one must be on the field so now my only hope is that fate, or whatever it is, conspires to deliver me to the right place come kick off next week.

Suggested Topics
News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress among those on 'master list' of massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor