By now y’all are aware that I’m kind of obsessed with rugby. Trust me, it comes as a shock to me as much as it does to you. Even though I grew up a fan of baseball, basketball, and football, the bloom was off the rose, so to speak, sometime around the late 1990s and stayed that way. But damn it, there’s just something I love about rugby. I think a lot of it has to do with how unpretentious the players are (players tend to stay humble when the biggest contract in Ireland (that I know of) is €1.5 million over three years) and how exciting the matches can be. I also love how intimate the matches feel with the size of RDS being around 20,000 attendees. There are problem high school football stadiums in Texas that hold more.
Anyhow, not long after our second or third match, I told Alan I wanted to buy Leinster Rugby tickets for next season. A few weeks after doing so, I received an email from the organization announcing an open training session for all season ticket renewers. The event took place yesterday, a bank holiday Monday here in Ireland, so I made my way over to Ballsbridge to watch. The weather started out lovely, as you’ll see below, but shortly before the session started, a huge black cloud rolled in and before I knew it, several of us were running for cover as a major hailstorm descended and pelted us with little evil balls of freezing ice. Seeking cover in the seats above, I realized I didn’t bring the right lens with me to get close enough to the action, so I ventured back down to my original seat and hoped the weather held out. Generally it did, although I did get a bit wet and have to put on my jacket for a bit.
Unfortunately Alan couldn’t join me since he’s still suffering from jet lag associated with his trip to SF and back last week, but I think it was better that way because I got to spend more time than I would have otherwise observing the players and how they interacted with the fans during the autograph session that followed. Now, before you accuse me of being a creepy stalker who stalks, keep in mind I am writing a contemporary romance novel set in Dublin whose hero is a professional rugby player and I take research and authenticity in my writing very seriously. (I once spent almost ten hours studying historic photos, sketches, and floor plans for Regency-era ballrooms and theaters for a book I started writing that never saw the light of day. I do *not* mess around when it comes to research.) And before any of you guys think I only hung around because I think the players are hot, I’ll have you know that was absolutely not the case at all. I’m not *that* shallow. (Okay, maybe just a little bit.)
(Incidentally, our seats next season are located somewhere the “D” is painted in the picture of the stands below.)