I have officially retired from attending rugby internationals – on the advice of my kidneys

roger young
That match: Roger Young in action against Wales in 1968, the “drop goal” game.

As I’m writing, there are three hours or so to go before the kick of at Lansdowne Road.

The Aviva if you like.

But it’s Lansdowne Road to me.

Anyway, I won’t be there.

Time was, with three hours to go, I’d be sucking my first pint or, if we dropped into the United Arts Club, my first half litre.

I have retired from attending rugby internationals, the Wales game before the World Cup being my farewell – though sadly, no public address announcement marked the occasion on the day.

It’s almost 50 years since I first went to an international in Lansdowne Road, a 10 year old standing wide-eyed on Lansdowne Road terrace looking at the biggest crowd he’d ever seen.

The pints were a few years later.

Indeed, a gang of us got to several matches free when the Blackrock College Scouts were asked to help usher people to their seats for the big games. Sadly that tradition died as did the Blackrock College Scout troop.

(We got into trouble on one famous occasion in March 1968 when a referee mistakenly allowed a Gareth Edwards drop goal that everyone in the stadium, bar he, saw go wide. WE were supposed to be on our best behaviour but we stood together, in our uniforms, chanting “GO HOME YA BUM” at the referee Mike Titcomb. Some outraged fans asked us where we went to school so we naturally told him it was Terenure.)

Anyway, those days are over. Much of my body would be there today. The head, the heart and the legs have no problem. The lungs would complain a bit but that’s not the problem.

It’s the kidneys.

The idea of a pint before a game is a no-no. Indeed, I suspect that a cup of tea two days before the game would still have be bursting to get to the jacks three or four times in the first half.

And while it might be a nice gesture, I don’t think the majority of the 50,000 at a game would appreciate the provision of potties or commodes for the likes of me.

I can think back to blagging my way in on one occasion as a teenager when I didn’t have a ticket, with a story about how me and my daddy got separated.

I remember a couple of us clambering over a wall at the back pitch on another occasion and then out running the stewards to get to the terraces.

Indeed, I remember being with a gang going into Twickenham back in the 80s when all but I got in by shoving a ten shilling note in the direction of the guy manning the style!

It’s all over now.

No more rugby.

I’ve as much chance of getting a cap for Ireland as Richard Harris – actually, I think he has a better chance than I despite his current status.

I still love the game.

So here’s hoping for great things this year.

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