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"I don't miss playing..."


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Watching the Saints derby, this was said by Terry O' earlier in the game in the context of saying these games were massive and the ones you looked forward to.

It does however, seem to be a sentiment that I've heard expressed often by ex-RL players. Linked to this, there also seems to me to be a lack of ex-players who follow or comment on the game closely if they have not gone into coaching or commentary. It almost feels like once they retire a lot of players don't feel fondly towards the game. One example is Tony Myler, a Widnes legend but someone who I've never seen heard of since about 1995. In comparison, many footballers often seem to never get over retiring and it is a shock when somebody like Gary Linekar comes out and says he doesn't miss it.

What is it that makes players say this about RL? I have a couple of thoughts, a big one is possibly the physicality and regularly being in pain. The other is that to many it just became a job and one that they weren't particularly well rewarded for. Unlike football, they weren't playing in front of 40,000 every week and getting handsomely rewarded. 

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I think the best thing that ever happened to me and my love affair with Rugby League (and probably my whole life if I'm honest) is that I wasn't good enough to be a professional player.

Edited by Dunbar
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"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

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There’s more chance of a player missing playing soccer that a rugby playing missing rugby. I can imagine that after 10 years of getting bashed around week in week out, for a pretty ordinary wage, you would have had enough.

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Cannot believe what i have read, you play the game in your head probably not what you could achieve, do I regret that I cannot play yes but that's all the things I am incapable of doing. The games different but I still watch from a playing point of view. RL is no different from any other sports or activities in life. 

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Given the amount of money swilling around soccer and it's media it isn't surprising former players have a high profile and remain involved.

Give RL the same money and opportunities and see just how interested our former stars are!

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5 hours ago, Maximus Decimus said:

Watching the Saints derby, this was said by Terry O' earlier in the game in the context of saying these games were massive and the ones you looked forward to.

It does however, seem to be a sentiment that I've heard expressed often by ex-RL players. Linked to this, there also seems to me to be a lack of ex-players who follow or comment on the game closely if they have not gone into coaching or commentary. It almost feels like once they retire a lot of players don't feel fondly towards the game. One example is Tony Myler, a Widnes legend but someone who I've never seen heard of since about 1995. In comparison, many footballers often seem to never get over retiring and it is a shock when somebody like Gary Linekar comes out and says he doesn't miss it.

What is it that makes players say this about RL? I have a couple of thoughts, a big one is possibly the physicality and regularly being in pain. The other is that to many it just became a job and one that they weren't particularly well rewarded for. Unlike football, they weren't playing in front of 40,000 every week and getting handsomely rewarded. 

I simply love rugby league

Its central to my life, a constant through good times and bad. 

Some players do indeed vanish and we never hear from them again, but many fans are here for life

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The old saying: " Rugby League is for the spectators, rugby union for the players ", maybe the latter applies a bit to soccer as well.

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I'm a fat old bloke of 61 years. I'm playing walking rugby now.... simply because I miss being in my 20's and going at it full tilt.. 

I love the game. I laid here texting cos the game at fev tonight gave me such a buzz I'm as high as a bloody kite. 

I just love rugby... playing, coaching, watching.... just love it 

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You could interpret it a lot of ways: he wouldn’t want to go round again in his 50 year old body, he’s matured and doesn’t need the physicality any more, he’s got a new role in life and doesn’t miss the old one, rugby league is very tough and he’s been there and done it.

I was a fraction of the player Terry O’Connor was and played league and union but I’m 43 now and I don’t miss playing in the sense that I’ve had my fun on a rugby pitch, life’s moved on and I don’t have the same urge (or ability) to get battered around like that, especially as a league prop/union second row as I was, and vets/third team rugby wouldn’t do it for me.

But it’s not a negative comment about the game.

Edit: contrast that with Robin’s take, it’s just where I am with it…

Edited by Tonka
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I played at a high standard for quite a few years and the toll on my body is significant

Im in my mid 50s now, during my career I had a broken leg, broken ankle and a broken arm as well as dislocated fingers and knee ligament damage. I was concussed a few times but played on however I had one severe concussion which put me in hospital for 3 days, 3 days I have no memory of even now!

Since retiring I’ve developed arthritis in both knees and have a damaged disc in my spine from playing Rugby League.

A couple of years ago I had an mri scan which revealed I’d had a double fracture of my jaw, fractured right eye socket and 3 broken ribs that I never even knew about. I have no idea of when those happened except for the broken jaw, I think I know who did it and when it happened.

Now, I mainly played in the backs, sometimes Loose Forward so I wasn’t really in the firing line like the props and 2nd rowers were.

I love the game but it has quite obviously cost me physically, it’s also stunted my working career and cost me a relationship.

I loved playing and have some great memories and lifelong friends but if given my time again, knowing what I know now I wouldn’t play Rugby League.

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When I read the above accounts it only reinforces something that has been playing on my mind lately and that is unfortunately as a sport Rugby League is on the wrong side of history now. A situation underlined over here by the difficulty we have in making in-roads into other codes markets, especially participation, and the seemingly relative ease in which they are making inroads into ours.

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It is a phenomenally physical sport. I've read a few cycling autobiographies and whilst a different type of physicality it too is all or nothing. To perform at the top you have got to be so dedicated and put your body through so much that you just can't keep that up. And when you finish you almost can't imagine the effort and dedication that it took to do it. 

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9 hours ago, Tonka said:

You could interpret it a lot of ways: he wouldn’t want to go round again in his 50 year old body, he’s matured and doesn’t need the physicality any more, he’s got a new role in life and doesn’t miss the old one, rugby league is very tough and he’s been there and done it.

I was a fraction of the player Terry O’Connor was and played league and union but I’m 43 now and I don’t miss playing in the sense that I’ve had my fun on a rugby pitch, life’s moved on and I don’t have the same urge (or ability) to get battered around like that, especially as a league prop/union second row as I was, and vets/third team rugby wouldn’t do it for me.

But it’s not a negative comment about the game.

Edit: contrast that with Robin’s take, it’s just where I am with it…

I’d agree with most of that Tonka, except I played vets till I was 48 and still enjoyed it. It was only when I felt I could no longer contribute physically that I realised it was time. And whilst I miss it, particularly when I’m watching, I’m happy that a played as long as I did and I’m glad I’m not still doing it!

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3 minutes ago, Tubby said:

I’d agree with most of that Tonka, except I played vets till I was 48 and still enjoyed it. It was only when I felt I could no longer contribute physically that I realised it was time. And whilst I miss it, particularly when I’m watching, I’m happy that a played as long as I did and I’m glad I’m not still doing it!

Yeah and fair play to you.  I started picking up some niggles I couldn’t shake, my career was taking off and giving up my Saturdays was becoming an issue - basically after playing rugby from about 13 - 32 I was ok to knock it on the head.  And actually I’ve picked up other sports since that are less risky.  I do miss it a bit but overall not, so all is well in the universe!  
 

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You did it right then. By the time I packed in, I was basically knackered with arthritis and old injuries. Other sports are pretty much off the cards. But I wouldn’t change a thing. 

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If you have a manual job it must be very hard to combine RL and your work. At times I could barely walk for days after playing, never mind getting up first thing on a Monday for a real physically demanding job like a labourer. That is before any thoughts of a serious injury meaning you can't work at all.

I can certainly see why many knock it on the head when they start working and have families.

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Some good responses here. Sadly I never really played, so can't comment on the affect it has on the body etc.

I suppose it could be like having small children, I can see how somebody could say they have happy memories of it, not regret it but not miss it either.

I think I find the other part of it harder to grasp. I'm Football and my limited knowledge of RU many ex-players still seem to be mad fans of their main clubs after they've retired. I don't seem to see this often in RL.

My own club Widnes had some great and not-so-great teams over the years filled with Widnes lads but you rarely ever see a player unless they've been specially invited to come. For instance, I see old players around the town quite regularly but never at games.

It was the same when I used to have Twitter, I'd follow a few ex-RL players and they almost never talked about the games whereas some might talk a lot about the football etc.

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2 hours ago, Maximus Decimus said:

Some good responses here. Sadly I never really played, so can't comment on the affect it has on the body etc.

I suppose it could be like having small children, I can see how somebody could say they have happy memories of it, not regret it but not miss it either.

I think I find the other part of it harder to grasp. I'm Football and my limited knowledge of RU many ex-players still seem to be mad fans of their main clubs after they've retired. I don't seem to see this often in RL.

My own club Widnes had some great and not-so-great teams over the years filled with Widnes lads but you rarely ever see a player unless they've been specially invited to come. For instance, I see old players around the town quite regularly but never at games.

It was the same when I used to have Twitter, I'd follow a few ex-RL players and they almost never talked about the games whereas some might talk a lot about the football etc.

I think, to an extent, with football and RU (and cricket), there is a sheer weight of numbers side of things there too. I know from conversations around grounds that I quite often end up talking to someone who use to play football to a reasonable non-league level but if everyone who had played football to the same level was still turning up to games then there would several thousand more people at each match.

Football, cricket, RU (and others), also, I think, have more of a social culture too - and also a bit more interest and reverence for the achievements of the past. For RL, a lot of the time, it is the game itself as is happening now that is the only thing.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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I have a relative who played second division rugby in the eighties. He finished up in his early thirties after a second lengthy injury that meant a second family holiday had to be cancelled. He worked all the way through his rugby career and has only retired from that job in the last few years. He has had a double knee replacement and himself says that he doesn’t miss playing or wish he was playing now (acknowledging how tough the game is now) but does miss the social side of things and being around a changing room. 

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I can't comment on the physical aspect as I was no player. But I have talked to lots of ex-professionals as club historian, and the toll on the human body of playing rugby league for 20 years can be immense.

In terms of ex-players keeping in touch with the game and effectively becoming fans, I think there's an important factor to consider which runs through a lot of conversations. Ex pros tell me (rightly or wrongly) that the sport has changed so much that they don't recognise it/watch it/like it.

That's a real shame. 

I also think that all clubs could do much more in the nostalgia/heritage line to honour and celebrate past players and their achievements. Some clubs are already pretty decent at this, but there's room for improvement. 

Comparisons with soccer are useless as there's so much money there, but many clubs pay former players to be "ambassadors " on match days and at hospitality events.

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9 hours ago, marklaspalmas said:

In terms of ex-players keeping in touch with the game and effectively becoming fans, I think there's an important factor to consider which runs through a lot of conversations. Ex pros tell me (rightly or wrongly) that the sport has changed so much that they don't recognise it/watch it/like it.

That's a real shame. 

I read this earlier and it has been playing on my mind all day.

I agree that it is a real shame that a number of ex pros don't like/watch the sport any more as they think it has changed too much.

A lot of us on here watched (and played) the game in the 70's, 80's and 90's (the 80's was my starting point) and we have pretty regularly stated what we don't like as much about the modern game.

As we are on here though, we still enjoy it enough to watch and chat.  I would really like a survey of ex players to be conducted to see which parts they would change if they could and why.

"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

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17 hours ago, Dunbar said:

I read this earlier and it has been playing on my mind all day.

I agree that it is a real shame that a number of ex pros don't like/watch the sport any more as they think it has changed too much.

A lot of us on here watched (and played) the game in the 70's, 80's and 90's (the 80's was my starting point) and we have pretty regularly stated what we don't like as much about the modern game.

As we are on here though, we still enjoy it enough to watch and chat.  I would really like a survey of ex players to be conducted to see which parts they would change if they could and why.

I guess it's only natural for many players (and fans) to prefer the version of RL played during their 'golden age' from the age of say 11 to 35 years old. Memory tricks and rose-tinted specs help us with those views.

But it's sad to see former professionals and dyed-in-the-wool fans reject the game outright, especially if it is in favour of being a soccer fan.

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7 minutes ago, marklaspalmas said:

I guess it's only natural for many players (and fans) to prefer the version of RL played during their 'golden age' from the age of say 11 to 35 years old. Memory tricks and rose-tinted specs help us with those views.

But it's sad to see former professionals and dyed-in-the-wool fans reject the game outright, especially if it is in favour of being a soccer fan.

Yes, it's a shame. 

I have said a few times on here that I preferred the sport in the 80's and 90's while still recognizing the skill and ability in the modern game.

But I am still a RL obsessive.  I have watched every game of the NRL and Super League this weekend - partly helped by my wife and daughter being in Italy for Easter but I would have watched most of them anyway.

As I said on the second post on here, I held some minor ambition to be a pro when I was younger but I started playing later than most (around 15) and, probably more relevant, I simply wasn't good enough.  As such, Rugby League has never been a job and always been my enjoyment and so I can look at it in a different way.

"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

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About 25 years ago I had a subcontract kerber working for me whose name I think was Vic Doughty. Apparently he used to play for one of the Lancashire clubs. I was having a natter with him on site and he told me how he had to pack in playing in his early thirties as his body couldn’t take the punishment any more. He missed playing rugby so much that he switched to his local amateur union side where he continued to play until he turned forty.

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