Sports

Stories from the frontline of rugby


Welcome to the first in a new series of articles on the coal face of rugby. These are the stories of people who live and breathe rugby, almost exclusively volunteers, all with a passion for the game and a story or two to tell.

These are the writer’s own stories, told in his own words. My role is strictly to collect and edit, to help bring them to life. We aim to publish one story per month and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as the contributors enjoy bringing their rugby stories to life.

Today’s first article features a valiant Scotsman with a South African surname, Mhairi Fourie, who is now fighting the good fight in suburban Melbourne.

Part 1: Mhairi Fourie

My love of rugby started in the early 1990s in Scotland when my parents started taking us to see Scotland play at Murrayfield. We lived on the west coast of Scotland, about 90 minutes from Edinburgh, so going to rugby was a one day event.

My parents would dress us in our Scottish shirts, beanies and scarves, and we would go for a day of rugby. I remember always feeling so hot in my thermal layers during the overheated car ride.

We met all our friends at their homes, where the adults debated the prospects for Scotland that day and the children sat down to the buffet and I listened to the older boys discuss their morning rugby matches.

We then set off for picnics in the parking lot in the shade of Murrayfield, for another meal and another opportunity for the adults to discuss – with growing enthusiasm – the certainty that Scotland would claim victory on the day- there, as I stood there now to understand why I was wearing ten layers of clothes.

I was always the one pestering my parents to get into the stadium in time for the national anthem. It’s an incredible feeling to be part of a crowd of 60,000 people singing the national anthem, before watching our warriors conquer the world. It was the time when the Hastings brothers and Doddie Weir played with everything they had. I was hooked.

Fast forward a few years, and we had moved to Edinburgh. My brother played rugby during the winter season, and my family and I traveled to Scotland to see him play for the school team. I loved every minute.

Because there was no schoolgirl rugby, my opportunities to play were limited to playing once a week on Fridays as an optional sport. I loved Fridays. I loved to tackle and score tries.

As a family we accompanied the 1995 school rugby tour to South Africa which was an epic experience. The standard was high and some schools weren’t even playing us because they didn’t think these Scottish boys were worth it. The pride in my school every time they took the field was infectious, and myself and the touring team formed lasting relationships with the schools we played at.

After leaving school, I continued to attend international games and was now old enough to enjoy the revelry that so often accompanies the games. Once they stopped the picnics in the parking lot, all that was left was to start the day at the Murrayfield Hotel, get in a good mood, and then after the game, bar hopping back to the CBD, inevitably drowning your sorrows!

I don’t think anyone can really say they’ve been to Murrayfield if you haven’t endured the long, noisy walk back into town, slightly drunk and unable to feel your limbs from the cold.

During the 1999 Rugby World Cup, I traveled to Edinburgh from London by train with my South African housemate to watch Scotland play South Africa. Scotland were not victorious, but the South Africans wanted to celebrate, not only the fans but also the players.

Mhairi Fourie (Photo provided)

My roommate knew some of the players and we ended up partying with them until the wee hours of the morning. At one point I found myself on a sofa, wedged between Os du Randt and Ollie le Roux.

When I went to the bathroom, I asked Os and Ollie to take care of my bag and warned them: “if my bag isn’t there when I get back, I’ll kick both of your ass “. Considering my height of five feet four inches, they were very amused!

My love for rugby grew even stronger after meeting my South African husband Stefan, and our first marital home overlooked Murrayfield Stadium.

It was from here that I watched my last match at Murrayfield in 2010, again Scotland versus South Africa. This time it was a sweet victory for the Scots, and my husband was not very happy with my jubilation.

Shortly after, we moved to Melbourne, in time to attend the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011. As we sat in the stand for Scotland against England, I heard my name being called, and sitting in the row behind was my brother’s best friend Reverend Doug Pickles and his wife Amy had the same idea to make the most of the World Cup while she was in their part of the country.

The result was not what a Scotsman wanted, but the experience was like no other.

Out of the blue, I then received a phone call from one of my school friends, asking me what we were doing on October 23rd. I replied: “Watching the World Cup final on TV, why?” He said: “Does Stefan want to come to the Rugby World Cup final, all expenses paid?”

My first thought was, WTF, I’m your friend, you’ve known my husband a fraction of the time you’ve known me. Half of me stayed away because I’m a loving and caring wife, while the other half knew not to embarrass a rugby-mad South African husband with the opportunity to see a World Cup final.

At least I have the souvenir ticket.

In 2013 the British Lions came to town and again we took the opportunity and attended the Melbourne and Sydney tests alongside family members who had made the long trip to Australia.

But generally living in Melbourne means you’re hungry for international testing, and we started supporting the Rebels, and when our kids were old enough I started looking for our local rugby club.

Rebels' Marika Koroibete is congratulated

(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Enter Maroondah Rugby Club, a small club located in the eastern suburbs. In 2019, I registered my boys, but being an area with a strong AFL and rugby league presence, there were only a handful of registrants.

Nonetheless, my boys loved it and happily got up on chilly Saturday mornings to walk around Melbourne to get their rugby fix.

In 2020, the club asked me to get involved and I took on the role of junior coordinator. I had no real idea what that entailed, but I had time up my sleeve and went for it. Unfortunately COVID set in and we weren’t able to play, let alone have enough kids to make a full squad.

In 2021, we now had over 20 kids showing up for training every week. It was amazing and a great feeling. COVID has taken its toll on junior and community sport again, but this year we were able to push forward and up.

We now welcome children to the club from families who have no rugby background. One of my rugby kids, Nate, is so passionate he takes his mum to the park at the weekend to stand behind the post while he practices his kicks.

I want to make sure there’s a place for kids like him to get quality coaching and support to play rugby and to stay in the game they’ve fallen in love with.

My hope for 2022, the 50th year of Maroondah Rugby Club, is that for the first time in many years we can field two teams and continue to provide and grow a family club for rugby fans in the east and east. outer-east of Melbourne. .

Being part of this club introduced me to the wider rugby community, and I had great mentors who helped point me in the right direction and supported me to stay motivated.

The Rugby Club of Victoria (RCV) allowed me to come and present my junior proposal to their members last year, and from there we were fortunate to receive funding which allowed us to set up a solid infrastructure in our club. In addition, some RCV members donated balls and a training kit to help us get started.

Some days it is really hard to know if you are headed in the right direction or not, but I take comfort in knowing that within the rugby community in Victoria there are always people who want you to succeed, even those of rival clubs!

‘Wherever you are, whatever your rugby involvement, don’t forget to celebrate ‘A Day in Union’, Saturday 26th March’




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Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

William

Friendly bacon buff. Unapologetic problem solver. Avid food lover. Amateur alcoholaholic. Organizer. Student
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