Just Don't Ask Me What A Scrum Is

Most everything you need to know about Duncan Forbes as an athlete is in this 13-second clip, accordingly to his thoroughly biased father, even though there's no great triumph involved here.  He's set up, eyes intently on the ball. He goes for the tackle. The guy who had the ball passes before Duncan gets there and takes Duncan out instead.  Duncan does a roll and pops right back up for the next hit. In short, he respects the game, whatever it is, and plays it all-out.

I hadn't seen a rugby match since the mid-1970s when Deirdre and I did a story about a  women's rugby team that was coached by our buddy, Mike Machado. Her pictures and my text ran as a centerfold in the New York Daily News' You,  the Sunday "women's section." Clara Trampe Nash, who edited the section, was unusually open to unusual ideas for pages that came from the tradition of how to grow your pansies, mind your Ps and Qs, and carve your Thanksgiving turkey  (though we did that, too, and I still refer to it). I say "we" because I,  not incidentally, was the copy editor and makeup guy for the section for a while, and provider of a few of those wacky ideas. 

Anyway, I doubt if Duncan ever saw a rugby game before he decided to join the club team at Cortland a few weeks ago. He was a pretty good soccer player through high school. He preferred playing defense from a young age, and was a very vocal, spitited and physical — but clean — player. For all of his slide tackles and aggressive play, I don't think he got more than two or three yellow cards in his AYSO, travel team and high school career.  (Actually, he's not done: he helped put together a co-ed intramural team at Cortland that went to the finals last season, and will start the spring season next week.) 

Today was the first actual game Duncan has played, though he was in a scrimmage on frozen-solid ground in Oswego earlier this month. Cortland's regulars dominated Ithaca in the first half, running up a 39-0 score. Cortland's coach made sure that every member of the 40-person squad played in the second half. The lead eked away, but Cortland won in the end. Duncan was a flanker for about the last 20 minutes. He doesn't think he did as well as he might have. That's the other thing you need to know about Duncan. He says he'll probably practice tomorrow even though it's unlikely he return for the fall season because the time commitment will be greater.

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