We don’t need to tell you: Tag rugby is huge in Ireland these days.
Once you start playing the game, you realise that you’re dealing with a very specific set of characters – and whether you love them or hate them, you’ve got to admit that these personalities make tag what it is.
1. The Banter Merchant
It’s great having someone to help you remember that it’s all only a game – particularly when you’re suffering a bit of a routing, and tensions are beginning to simmer.
Some people, though, seem to revel in the slapstick hilarity of a thrashing… and when they spill the ball out of their hands for no apparent reason, then turn to everyone with a goofy ‘look at me!’ grin on their face, their light-hearted approach starts to wear rather thin.
2. The Wannabe Professional
Oh man, this girl hates you. She hates you all.
She dreams of glory, of silverware, of standing on a large podium making a tear-worthy speech to a captive audience of thousands… only for you IDIOTS to hold her back with your STUPID passes and your INEXPLICABLE inability to hold a defensive line.
This is, of course, all in spite of the fact that she’s not actually very good herself.
She’ll usually slink off the pitch about 10 minutes from the end, feigning an injury so that she can abdicate herself of responsibility for the humbling defeat.
3. The Simmering Volcano
He seems like a nice chap. Works in one of those jobs that bring about an awkward silence in conversation – “A leasing manager, you say? Right. Cool!” – but sound enough, and quite a gentle and good-humoured presence during the throw-around before kick-off.
Then the whistle blows, and he becomes a terrifying hybrid of Gordon Ramsay and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. Loyal to his teammates, but utterly terrifying to the opposition, to the point where the ref has to intervene… only to be met with a Roy Keane-style death stare that causes the apocalypse to flash before his very eyes.
He will get sent off. The only question is when.
4. The Ballerina
No matter what challenges the match throws at the Ballerina, they have one solution: pirouette.
It may not be the wise thing to do, it may not be the most effective way of evading the opposition but DAMMIT they came here to pirouette, and pirouette they shall.
5. The Well-Intentioned Disaster
It’s her first league, and she’s signed up because everyone in work played last year and had SO much fun – and while she really does want to be good, at least to a standard where she can enjoy the game, she unfortunately really isn’t.
Her demeanour and her enthusiasm are absolute assets to the team… just don’t let the ball go anywhere near her.
Unless you want to wind up the Would-Be Professional, that is.
6. The All-Round Legend
Not only is the All-Round Legend absolutely brilliant on the pitch, but they’re full of support for everyone else – from helpful tips for the Well-Intentioned Disaster, to quiet assurances for the Simmering Volcano.
They’re also funny, good-looking and amazing on the guitar. Probably.
Is it wrong to hate this person a tiny bit?
7. The Ol’ Yeller
He’s watched enough rugby to know ALL the words. Unfortunately his teammates haven’t, so his yells of ‘numbers’, ‘watch the overlap’ and ‘I’ve got blindside’ tend to fall on somewhat deaf ears.
8. The Houdini
Master of the vanishing act, the Houdini tends to arrive at the venue seconds before kick-off, and will have already disappeared before by the time the tags are collected after the final whistle.
Good luck getting her to the pub.
9. The Lucky One
Every time the opposing team kicks off, the ball will land squarely in the Lucky One’s hands, and he’ll unwittingly exploit a glaring defensive gap to score a stupidly easy try.
10. The Unlucky One
Every time the opposing team kicks off, the ball will land squarely in the Unlucky One’s face, and they’ll unwittingly exploit a glaring defensive gap to score a stupidly easy try.
11. The Unreformed Rugger
He’s the guy who drops his shoulder going into every tackle, and can’t seem to grasp the concept of a non-contact sport in the same way that he manages to grasp your face.
12. The Sideline Stalker
There’s nothing quite like the support of your subs from the sideline to egg you on during a match – not to mention the tactical advice they can offer by taking a side-on view of proceedings.
The Sideline Stalker is particularly good at this, and skulks the perimeter of the pitch like a lion watching over a pride – but has anyone actually ever seen her play?
13. The Jilted Tagger
Begins every sentence with ‘On my old team, we used to…’
You spend a while wondering why he’s not with his beloved Old Team any more if that’s the case, until you realise he was probably jettisoned on account of being the most irritating human on the planet.
14. The Celluloid-Fuelled Captain
She’s seen as many sports movies as the Ol’ Yeller has seen rugby, and is pretty much here solely for the half-time team talk.
Every speech is delivered with the passion and oratory skills of Paul O’Connell, and sends the players on to the pitch either pumped to high heavens or – depending on the mood – mildly bemused.
“Did you put the fear of God into anyone” indeed.