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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable