I will always remember the day my life changed. Do you know what it is like to have your enemy standing 10 inches to your right of you? These brutes are willing to give their lives to stop us from succeeding in our cause. Standing , shoulder to shoulder with my fellow warriors, I was nervous. We were Warriors fighting for our countries pride, honour and glory. I felt the weight of millions of people’s expectations; I was under pressure. The pressure was an excruciatingly heavy weight to bear ,however, it seemed to squeeze confidence out of every pore in my body. This was the only thing we thirty men had in common , that and our love for rugby, the sport born out of the ashes of football. The crowed roared and screamed as thirty men walked on to the field where the battle would commence.
As the New Zealand kicker stepped up to the halfway line, the crowds excitement was palpable. The dedicated crowd knew that ,after the next eighty minutes, there would be a victorious team on the pitch. But the crowd also knew a loser was inevitable! The losing side would never taste the glory nor would they feel the joyous pride of being World Champions. This thought suddenly filled my heart with terror but I was on that pitch to win. The crowd needed to support their team. They needed to drive their team to victory.
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Simultaneously, the referee checks his watch and blows the whistle. On cue, the maori fly half rockets the ball into the sky. Time slows as the rugby ball arcs through the air, soaring towards me.
“Nick’s ball !“
I leaped to grasp the ball from out of its parabola , however , I jumped too early. It landed one metre in front of me, into the hands of a six foot towering titan. He caught it! Running at full speed, he powered through our defence. Eyes fixated on the try line , with samson like power, he shrugged off all attempts to stop him . In a matter of seconds, he had propelled his huge mass over the try line and had delicately placed the ball down as if it was glass.
The maori number ten stood in front of the posts, so tall they appeared to hold up the sky. A powerful kick sent the rugby ball sailing between the posts and over the heads of a demoralised England. As the first half of the game drew to an end ,7-0 to New Zealand, frustration, anger and panic was rife among our England team.
“ Whats going on!“ screamed the coach “ we are acting like we are beat , and you know what? We are far from it. We didn’t come all this way ,worked hard through all this training and beaten all the other teams to just roll over and die! We have to fight for every inch and slowly it will add up until we score! If your not going to put your body on the line tell me now and I will take you off for someone who will.”
“Would I fight?” I thought to myself. “Yes , I will die before i stop fighting !” As My team mates and I march on to the field with new confidence we prepare ourselves for a fight for England ,our country. The referee blows his whistle. The ball drifts in the gentle breeze and finds its way to a 20 stone monster. His counter part for England was running as fast as his little legs would carry his small round body. They met with a clap of flesh as the Englishman’s shoulder burrowed into the gut of this maori monster. The ball bobbled on the ground after it slipped out of the stubby hands of the New Zealander. Instinctively , my feet started to run towards the ball which bounced into my outstretched hands. Past one player, past two , only one more player to avoid and I will bring glory to my nation. I plant my left foot , springing off to the right , I was prepared for this sudden change of direction : he wasn’t and remained rooted to the spot. I soar into the air , ball tucked under my arm. TRY !
I placed the ball on the kicking tee and then proceeded to take 3 steps back and 2 to my left. A loud roar from defiant fans intent in having me miss the kick. The pressure was immense “if I succeed in kicking this goal England will be level!” I thought to myself. I approached the ball with sped my eyes fixated on the seam. The next thing i saw was the dark sky. I had slipped. The ball trickled off the tee, my left foot had lost its traction. Now embarrassment and disappointment filled my body. 5-7 to New Zealand.
Tackle after tackle was now taking its toll my body was an old punch bag ; battered ,worn out and tired. the time ticked by and with each second came another monumental haul to overcome the constant attack on our try line. The ball in sight but never within reach. Until a sound of the whistle. New Zealand had mad a mistake allowing England to advance deep into the oppositions territory. Another whistle blow for a penalty this was in front of the posts. 30 seconds remained on the clock. A feeling of deja vu engulfed me as i , once again , place the tee down. This kick will win the world cup. The pressure was a weight impossible mask. My mind unable to comprehend the enormity of the seemingly simple task. The ball was sitting on the tee begging to be kicked. one foot found its way in front of a mother then all of a sudden. CONNECTION ! I gazed in wonder as the rugby ball spun elegantly through the air. somersaulting its way in between the the up rights.
A eruption of jubilated fans celebrating this achievement , leapt to their feet and began screaming in sheer joy. I did it , I won the world cup. The pressure was like evaporating water rising from my once heavy head. There was no time left for a comeback. The final whistle overpowered by joyous Englishmen and women. I will always remember the day my life changed , the day I overcame pressure.