The Try That Never Was

Adam was involved in a very tightly contested rugby match yesterday against a much bigger Belfast school. Privately, I wasn’t expecting the boys to win but they played out of their skins, and almost did. The final score was 17-14 but the score doesn’t fully reflect the courage, skill and work ethic the team put into the contest, which was played in wet, bitterly cold conditions.

The score also doesn’t reflect an incident in the first half when Lurgan almost scored a try which would have won the match for them. A kick through was chased to the line by a Lurgan player and member of the opposing side. As the ball crossed the line, both boys dived on it. From where I was standing, it was impossible to tell who had touched the ball first.

The referee was equally unsighted and asked the boys who had grounded the ball first. The crowd, all seven of us, collectively held our breath and I crossed my fingers and toes, hoping it was a score for the home side. At which point one of the Lurgan players, a good friend of Adam’s, informed the referee that the other team touched the ball first. The referee thanked him and the game carried on. No try.

It was a gesture of sportsmanship by a teenage boy which touched me. Rugby is massive in Ireland and our little nation has arguably the best side in the world, heading into next autumn’s World Cup in Japan. It is fiercely competitive at schoolboy level and played to an incredibly high standard. The top schools players normally end up playing professionally. Think college football and the NFL.

It is also a game where the boys are taught to play hard, but fair. They put in bone shaking hits, but afterwards shake hands and applaud each other off the pitch. The referee is always referred to as ‘sir’, and his decisions are final. The game teaches discipline, self control and respect. I often I wish I could display the same restraint on the touchline as Adam and his teammates show on the field of play.

After the match, I asked Adam his thoughts on the try that never was. He replied that they were mixed. While he desperately wanted to win, he admired his friend for doing the right thing, even if it meant defeat. The school principal later tweeted about the incident, stating that he was proud of his pupil for putting honesty before victory at all costs. It represented the values of the school and what they are trying to instil in their students.

I wondered if I would have made the same call. I’m not sure I would have. I’m incredibly competitive and not the best of losers. I so wanted Adam’s team to win, but it wasn’t to be. Yet, as I walked back to the car it didn’t feel as if the team had been beaten. Instead, there was a sense of pride and vindication. I know that, somewhere down the road, the team will be rewarded for what happened on the pitch.

What would you have done? It’s a tough one, isn’t it? The desire to win versus adhering to the rules. It’s so easy for our moral compass to spin out of control when the stakes are high. Dizzy with success, but left inside with an empty feeling and a bitter taste in the mouth. But next time I’m faced with such a decision I’m going to think back to yesterday’s match and the shining example of a 16 year old boy.

What are your thoughts on the try that never was?

How competitive are you? Are you a bad loser?

Have you ever experienced somebody cheating in order to win?

35 thoughts on “The Try That Never Was

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  1. Reblogged this on IdeasBecomeWords and commented:
    This reminds me so so much of my son’s former years as a rugby player. He played from U7s through to Colts … before javelin took over. The gentlemanly attitudes he learnt on the pitch, which in no way appear to link to the physical needs of the game, set him up for his time in athletics and his life in general.
    Great post guys
    🌸

    Like

  2. In my country we’re told to play fair and be good, then we find out those we thought were winners didn’t do the same . Sometimes we wonder if doing the right thing even exists anymore, or are there just varying levels “winning”? Great post!

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  3. I am totally lost when it comes to sports, but that doesn’t matter in reference to your post. This is so heartening and encouraging. You know,some people are quick to jump on the wrongs committed by young people and seldom give them the credit they deserve. I wish I could have them read this post. I seethe when people make generalizations about anyone based on age, creed, color, etc. etc.

    Many years ago I was in a bank paying bills and withdrawing funds at the teller’s window. She miscounted the number of bills and it was not a small amount. I remember the sensation of having a devil on my shoulder coaxing me to take it and go, but I couldn’t do it. However, the temptation was strong. My hubby and I were only recently married and were setting up house. We could have used the extra cash. Still, my conscience would not allow me to do it. She got a bit snooty when I asked her to recount it like I was doubting her ability to count correctly. I was gratified when she realized she had made a big mistake – that changed her attitude big time! LOL

    So, kudos to the young man for his honesty. I know from personal experience it isn’t always easy and this young man deserves to be commended. Thanks for sharing this wholesome and wonderful story.

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  4. To gain by cheating. It is such a temptation that I and many fail. While I do not know the game Rugby or what try means. I do understand getting ahead by cheating in away possible. I know Jesus wants us to strive for perfection. He understands we will never be perfect while here on earth. But it is the act of striving to be perfect that counts. While we may not always be perfect in getting ahead in life without cheating. It is the times that we look out for others before us, when we tell the truth even though we may suffer. It is those times that God treasures those decisions in His heart. We honor our Creator, or Heavenly Father! He blesses us by helping us change from the inside out as we honor Him.

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  5. Great post and great credit to the lad. It must have crossed his mind that maybe he was letting his mates down, but nonetheless made the call he knew was correct. You are rightly proud of him. (Fifty years later I still recall cheating to win a penalty in a football match – the guilt still lingers.)

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  6. I’m glad to hear good values are still encouraged. Honesty is terribly important to me, even to the point of too much of it in social situations. *sigh*

    Decisions haunt me, you see, and a dishonest call like your example would stay with me forever.

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