Drink Aware?

There were two stories in the press yesterday that caught my eye (I should be more careful when I turn the page).Anyway, I started to think that they might be somehow related.

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The first was a report that Adam Ashley Cooper has indicated that there will be no more excessive boozing by the Wallabies and that the controversial incidents are now behind them.

If that’s true I think it’s a bit sad – the Aussies have often been at the forefront of the rugby tradition of knowing you’ve had enough when you fall over – and good on them.

It’s not just their rugby players either, whilst the ‘Three Amigos’ (James, Quade and Kurtley) have frequently set the standard in recent times, who can forget David Boon’s record of 52 cans on a flight from Australia to the UK. On that trip Rod Marsh apparently wimped out with only 46 and Doug Walters managed a pathetic 44.

Rugby isn’t the same without a dozen or so lagers to recuperate after a match and the peer pressure will make it jolly difficult for Adam and his mates to go cold turkey without a measured reduction over time (10 to 15 years would seem reasonable).

I do remember, however, whilst playing at Askeans I was often only too pleased to get a game (especially on tour) in order to get a break from having to down a fast pint or two – maybe that’s why these professional guys want to play the odd game as well!

It’s not just the Aussies who keep up the drinking marathons of course; there are legendary Lions’ stories of sessions that went on all night (and longer) – for details read Willie John and Jason Leonard’s biographies. In fact I’m surprised they were able to write anything at all bearing in mind how often they were on the piss.

Fergus Slattery apparently had a pint of Guinness or two before a game and it certainly didn’t seem to do him  much harm – certainly not as much as he did to his opponents anyway.

Other stories include one year’s Scotland v England aftermath when John Jeffrey and Dean Richards couldn’t find a ball and used a cup or something to continue the game down Princes Street.

My favourite (amongst many) though is Andy Powell being arrested as he was driving up the M4 in a golf cart in the early hours after a 6 Nations match against Scotland. He stated that he was off to find a services that served a full English (?). Maybe he thought one of the English backs was on the menu!

The All Blacks have had a few good drinkers too, but it is the French who really seem to let the side down with very few good tales of drink fuelled excess. Maybe it’s because they start drinking vino so young over there that they don’t feel the effects – their loss.

They didn’t even get involved when the much missed Maurice Colclough prompted the “after-shave affair” in Paris in 1982.

‘As the England team were celebrating victory over the French, Colclough took a bottle of after-shave, one of which had been left by all the players’ plates as a gift, surreptitiously emptied the contents and refilled the bottle with white wine. He then drank it, pretending it was the after-shave, and challenged his colleagues to do the same.

Colin Smart, an unfortunately named prop forward, took up the challenge, then collapsed and had to be admitted to hospital.’ Now that’s what rugby is all about in my book!

The other article was the announcement that ultra -cheap alcohol is to be banned in England and Wales. Where’s the fun in that – does it mean we’ll now have to use some good stuff for ‘throwing bitter’? Will the top sides have to negotiate higher TV sponsorship to pay for after game drinks? Or will all the best players head for France? The last one seems extremely unlikely judging by the apparently exemplary (and boring) behaviour in Gallic bars.

A much better idea is to forgo the protein drinks and get some more tinnies in!

This blog is full of references to the excess drinking and stupid drinking games I enjoyed with mates at Askeans – it’s good to know that the professional players are keeping up the tradition – and I for one, don’t believe that those days are gone. If I’m wrong a lot of the new rugby biographies are going to be extremely bloody tedious!

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