David Flatman: That hurts. None of us took up this game to be branded a bunch of losers

From the Front Row: Young pros sense the tension and shuffle about trying not to be seen

As a 15 year-old, scrapping it out on a Sunday morning and waiting by the television all day for Rugby Special to begin, I dreamed only of my name and my team in bold print on the back page of the newspaper. In my mind we were dominant; we were champions. Like most kids, all I ever thought about was winning.

Of course, we all realise that winning every game is impossible and that, at some point, we will have to negotiate that sour aftertaste instantly recognisable as defeat. We will give everything and come up second. When considered logically,it seems odd that, seeing as one team lose in almost every game, defeat remains so hard to take.

But it does. And when it keeps on happening it just gets harder. We at Bath are currently in a horrible vein of form. We will win soon – hopefully against London Irish today – and we will win plenty of games before the season is out. But, until that result comes, we exist in the foggy midst of the greyest of clouds. With each loss, the weight hanging around our necks gets heavier, and the pressure surrounding the next match increases. This is not a complaint; as with all sportspeople, our destiny rests in our hands.

Everybody reacts differently to a loss. I tend to spend the night sulking and the next day being generallyunpleasant to be around. Come Monday morning, though, I try to regain a positive outlook, knowing that negativity will do nothing to help me and my mates get where we need to be. All that matters at times like this is improving our game sufficiently to win a match. Nothingelse. No big picture, no league tables, no targeting of different competitions. Just help find a way to win, or keep quiet.

When the focus of the squad becomes this intense, the group dynamic alters accordingly. Sure, there is still laughter and fun to be had – a team that never smiles never wins, I am convinced of that – but there is also a new, steely glaze just visible behind the eyes of the men charged with restoring honour to the badge. The injured men batter their way through the mind-blowing monotony of repetitive rehabilitation, feeling utterly impotent as the other lads roll out week after week.

The young, aspiring professionals sense the tension in the room and shuffle about trying not to be seen, hoping not to say the wrong thing to the wrong guy. The coaches show us, on a big screen with no hiding place, where exactly we haven't done as we said we would, all the while – presumably – wondering how experienced players can get the same things wrong game after game. Of course these errors happen every week, but their significance is exacerbated when they contribute to a loss. Most sins are forgiven when you score more points that the other mob. This is sport.

Pressure comes from outside, too, and, even though we are told from an early age to ignore it all, we all read the papers (well, the props do at least), and we all watch rugby on the television, so we hear the experts' views on our performance which, when under par, can be tough to digest. If, like me, you are lucky enough to have mates who think they are funny, you soon find out if somebody has criticised you: "Commentators said you were crap today. We Agree!" was one particularly sensitive text message I received from an old school chum after a recent match. Needless to say I sent a hitman to his home.

And the supporters, too, make their opinions known. I will never complain if every Twitter message is not complimentary, but some of the recent abuse has been shocking. I could never type some of these things out to someone I do not know and press "send", but we can never legislate for what makes others angry. Our fans are spending their money and time on us, and we fully acknowledge our responsibility to repay them with performances worthy of their loyalty.We would be nothing without them.

So the pressure mounts. But, actually, this can be a blessing. When all about you descends into frenzy, calmness and encouragement can create a bubble of hope in which we can exist, alone but for one another. As a former coach of mine once said: "When times get nasty, you circle the wagons; you protect your own." And so we will.

As a group of blokes we are closer than ever, and this mutual respect and a commitment to do whatever it takes will lead us to victory. What a feeling it will be.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment