The Rugby Match
As the weather started to get colder again, the Rugby season started. Harry had been picked for the first fifteen under thirteen school rugby team as winger and opening kicker. He had even been picked for team captain!
This Wednesday was the school’s first big match of the year. The Aldershot Grammar was coming for the match that afternoon.
They could hardly concentrate in class that day, and Harry kept on looking longingly out to the pitch out the classroom window.
“Today we are going to be starting on the future tense,” said Mr Mitchell from the front of the class. “Something that hasn’t happened yet, but will happen, I shall love, he shall have.”
“You shall pay attention Harry,” said Mr Mitchell walking over to Harry’s desk and hitting a book against the desk.
“Sorry sir?” said Harry snapping his attention back to the lesson.
“We are starting on the future tense,” said Mr Mitchell again, “he shall do, they shall want, we shall go.”
“I think you lot are already thinking about the future though aren’t you,” he chuckled looking around at the class.
“The very near future of this afternoon.”
“An example of the future tense is, you shall play rugby this afternoon.”
“Can anyone think of any more examples?”
Mark shot his hand in the air.
“I shall be a famous dancer!”
“I’m sure you will Mark,” he laughed.
“We shall beat the Aldershot Grammar this afternoon!” called Malcolm.
“And Harry shall score the winning try!” beamed Graham looking over at Harry.
Harry had gone paperwhite, the whole school seemed to be depending on him. What if they didn’t win? The whole school would hate him.
“You all seem to be very preoccupied today,” said Mr Mitchell shaking his head, “far too busy thinking about the match this afternoon, but as for now, Latin!”
The class groaned slightly as they copied down the future tense for To Love.
Finally, after what felt like a decade, the bell rang for the end of class, and the Lower Fourth rushed down for lunch.
Wednesday afternoon’s where always very exciting. As there were matches that afternoon, the whole school came out to watch and there were no lessons. If you weren’t in a match, you could either practise on one of the spare fields or watch the other matches.
Mark and Julie usually slipped away for the afternoon and practised their tap dancing or ballet. Mr Davies didn’t really care, as long as it was something to do with sport!
Harry hardly touched his lunch but just pushed his corned beef and boiled potatoes around the plate.
“Look I know the food’s not great Harry, but you’ve got to eat,” said Anthony.
“I’m not hungry,” muttered Harry.
Harry had gone so white that it looked like he might faint.
“Harry, we can’t have you getting sick on us,” said Charlie patting him on the back.
“The whole schools depending on you,” agreed Athene.
“So eat up,” beamed Mark, “our resident Rugby star has to keep his strength up.”
“But that’s exactly the point!” exclaimed Harry in frustration.
“The whole bloody schools depending on me! If we lose today, it’s going to be all my fault!”
“Harry Knowles,” said Athene firmly, “how many people are on a Rugby team?”
Harry looked at her slightly confused.
“Well, fifteen without reserves.”
“Exactly,” nodded Anthony, “however well the match goes today it’s not completely down to you.”
“But I’m the team captain!” he said getting exasperated, “and the best scorer!”
“If we lose it’s all on me,” he sighed.
“Harry,” said Charlie, “we don’t care if Aldershot wins the match 21 to nothing.”
Harry flinched slightly at the mere thought of such a defeat.
“As long as you try your hardest, we’ll be proud of you.”
“Thanks, Charlie,” said Harry smiling slightly before diving into his lunch.
After lunch, the visiting teams arrived. There were three matches today all against Aldershot Grammar, the Under 13’s, Under 16’s, and Under 18’s.
Simon who was now games captain for the whole school was the team captain for the Under 18’s and came running up to Harry who was still looking very nervous.
“You alright Harry, you like you’re about to be sick?”
Harry had been looking at the opposing team, they seemed to be twice his size.
Harry nodded slowly.
“You’ll be fine,” assured Simon patting him on the back before running off back to his team.
“Good luck Harry,” said Anthony patting him on the back as Harry ran off to join the team.
Anthony, Charlie and Athene were standing on the edge of the pitch wrapped up in warm coats, hats and scarfs so that they wouldn’t get cold.
Lizzie and Lucy seemed to have taken it on themselves to become the school head cheerleaders. They didn’t have pompoms or anything but were chanting and shouting for their team so loudly, that it didn’t matter. Some of the new Upper Third girls had joined the impromptu cheerleader group as well.
They tossed a coin between the two teams to decide who got to receive the ball first. The Aldershot team won the toss. But that didn’t matter though.
The two teams were very well matched, and it was a frantic and chaotic match. The ball seemed to be changing teams every couple of minutes and everyone was caked with mud.
There was a minute and a half left until the end of the match, and the score was 22-17, and Aldershot was in the lead.
It wasn’t noticeable that Harry was ghostly white anymore, because he was covered in so much mud.
Malcolm threw the ball back to Harry as they were halfway up the pitch.
“Run for it Harry!” screamed Charlie at the top of her lungs.
Harry somehow managed to dodge his way between the opposing team as only he could, and managed to avoid himself getting tackled.
He threw himself and the ball over the line as he reached it straight in the middle of the goal post.
The referee blew his whistle.
Harry had scored a try, and they were tied, 22-22. The crowd had gone wild!
Harry took a deep breath as the crowd went quiet suddenly.
There were only a few seconds left in the match, just enough for the conversion kick.
He set the ball up for the kick and the whole of the lower school watched on tenterhooks.
“You can do it Harry!” called Charlie.
Harry nodded firmly and kicked the ball, which went flying straight over the goal post, just like it had done in practice.
The whistle was blown for the end of the match.
They had won! They had won 24-22!
The crowd went wild, people were screaming up and down the pitch, his teammates were trying to lift him in the air, but Harry didn’t notice any of that.
What he did notice was that for some reason, Charlie had come sprinting onto the pitch still wearing her hat and scarf.
“I knew you could do it Harry!” she beamed.
Her cheeks were bright red, half from running, half from the cold.
Charlie brushed the worst of the mud off of Harry’s face.
“You were amazing!” she exclaimed.
Charlie gave Harry a quick kiss on the forehead, and there was a large amount of wolf-whistling from the Lower Fourth who had all been watching.
Charlie had forgotten, that nearly half the school were there and blushed tomato red and turned to run off of the pitch.
Harry put a hand on her shoulder to stop her from running away.
Harry looked carefully into Charlie’s face; he had never realised how beautiful she was before. Until today he had always seen as almost like another one of the lads. Oh, he knew Charlie was a girl alright! But he had never realised how beautiful she was until today.
Harry’s hand stroked Charlie’s cheek. He had forgotten that his hands were muddy, and he had now just left a small trail of mud down her cheek, but neither of them seemed to care.
Harry pulled Charlie in for a kiss on the lips, it had never felt so right.
When Charlie and Harry pulled apart, both their faces were covered in mud, but they were both so happy that they just didn’t care!