Open Wounds


Frenchman’s Creek and the All Blacks

Rugby world cup has come and gone. New Zealand reigns as world champs and France as a close second, Australia is third, and the Welsh are fourth. I watched the game at McCormicks standing at the bar. A friend of mine tried to meet me there but it was so crowded – we were literally wall to wall people with no personal space at all – that he stood a few feet from me and neither of us saw each other. The game started at 4am and I’d arrived to a packed house at 2:45am.

But I watched the game.

I knew early on that France would be a contender. As a friend said of France, they usually have one good game in them during world cup and the final was their good game. It was a nail-biter going down to the last second of the game, final 8-7 – a one point differential. New Zealand did not play their usual free flowing game of attack attack attack and scored their only try off their scrum – second rower who got his first rugby try in the world cup – maybe even ever. Second rows don’t see opportunities like that too often. But their defense was incredible. The French threw every attack they had at the all blacks and the all blacks resisted heroically.

The bar on 3rd avenue was packed with French fans singing the French national anthem and other songs I can’t even name. There were  a few of us NZ fans and mostly we just shouted back at them. I had a Guinness and it was grand. When I asked the bartender for coffee at half-time (about 5am EST) he just laughed at me. The place was filled with smoke – even though it’s illegal in NYC inside, anywhere. Even the bartender smoked.

I am passionate about rugby. It is one of the most beautiful, harsh, brutal, challenging sports of all time. It is war on the pitch. I played 16 years (check out my 10 Things (#5) page for my list of injuries) and enjoyed its many aspects as a player and now most definitely enjoy them as a spectator. In the final at least four players on each side had to leave with injuries ranging from blood time-outs (cuts across the face) to concussions, to what could have been a busted knee but is probably ligament damage. When the final whistle blew it was incredible to watch the all blacks celebrate their second world cup victory – only their second. This time they didn’t choke the way they have in past world cups. The number one ranked team in the world finally proved to the world that they truly were number one.

What does this have to do with writing?

Nothing and everything.

The first good novel I wrote (I wrote one before but that was definitely my practice novel just to show myself that I could do it) was called Local Anesthetic and had the game of rugby as a main character. I love that book. It got me my first agent but was never shopped around much (long story about a bad agent relationship) and never picked up by a publisher. I still look at it longingly some days and wonder…