I Make No Secret, or Apology, For My Love of B Field

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - By: Mr. Philip Smith, Rugby Coach & Math Teacher

During the winter term, the rugby boys disappear. They report to B-field. Where’s that, you might ask? That’s okay—the name gives it away: beyond the highway, behind the fast food outlets, beside the fire hall. If you make it that far, you’ll find a clearing, the size of two rugby fields. It is eerily flat, which gives the impression that you’re standing on the shore of a small lake. At the west end, an embankment of leafless poplars gives way to a bank of light fog, and out of that sprout commanding firs. The east end looks out to the sea. 

The field might be defined by what it lacks: no painted lines, no changing rooms, no running water, no place to sit down. The grass tends to itself, and at the south end standing water can be a problem only when it’s warm enough to thaw. Four sets of rusted uprights stand sentry, but not in the way that would provide for two rugby fields; rather, two sets oppose each other while two sets stand (roughly, but not exactly) along the western touch line. The posts are vestiges of olden times, when boys were conscripted to play, and, willing or otherwise, hundreds of them took to B-field every day. Today, the posts are there only because it was found to be too difficult to remove them; each had been set into a car-size foundation of concrete.  So there they are.  B-field is neglected, unnoticed, forgotten. And it likes it that way.

It’s a great place to train. Firstly, there are no distractions. Literally none. No tennis players, no girls walking past to the shops, no pesky sunlight. Secondly, it’s always open. The standard email from Facilities is this logical fallacy: all fields are closed; B-field is open. So boys train there and do so with the no-nonsense sensibility the setting demands. They run lines on frozen ground, fifty sets of thundering feet.  They tackle, ruck, maul, catch, and pass. Coaches shout directions and the boys spring into action. Sometimes there’s laughter.

Come April, they will return to the glamour of Gillespie Field. They will return as if from a cocoon, and they will be strong and fit and gallant. They will score and the crowds will cheer. Someone will ask, “Where have they been?”

“They’ve been at B-field.”

“Where’s that?”

Mr. Philip Smith, Rugby Coach & Math Teacher

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