A few weeks ago, my touch rugby team embarked on its annual tour to another country for a tournament. Sadly, this would be our final time playing together, as some of us are off to new lands and others are all rugby-ed out. The few remaining will scatter about and reform perhaps, but Bam Bam Bigelow played its last game together in Nice. (Cue violins.)
I’ve never been to Nice, but had seen photos of the pebble beaches and the Cote d’Azure proved to be as warm and romantic as I’d envisioned. Unlike last year’s trip to Cambodia, which kicked off with an allnighter and concluded with beer and karaoke in a seedy prostitute bar, our trip to Nice was much more refined. We arrived in the morning and spent about three hours at the airport, as we’d flown into different terminals, rode back and forth on shuttles, and then promptly missed the bus to Cagnes-sur-Mer (no problem there, airport beers).
Once snug in our spacious apartments, we ventured out and dined on all kinds of cheeses, chocolates, wine, crepes, baguettes, and beer. By the end of the night, we found ourselves gathered around some bizarre board game that Chris had brought from Spain called Dixit, involving colored bunnies and tarot-like cards boasting disturbing images. I went to bed at 10, feeling as aged as the wine and cheese.
This was probably for the best. The tournament was a day-long endeavor, and our team played seven grueling games. I say grueling because many of the games were nearly back to back and we had few subs. This was brought to our attention earlier by a woman playing for Monaco’s team, who said, “There are only nine of you? You’re going to be very tired.”
Apparently, other teams were stocked full of players, some having more than fourteen, so back to back games were easily managed by having half the team play the first and half the second, subbing when necessary.
If anything, this just made me feel better about our wins: 3, 3 losses, and 1 draw. It wasn’t perfect, but it was memorable for a number of reasons:
1. Muggs aptly named it the “baby bear” tournament: not cold like Vienna (I wasn’t there for that one) or smoldering like Cambodia, but just right. (And gorgeous, too, nestled snug in a ring of mountains with clear skies and a welcome breeze.)
2. Anne, somewhat new to rugby this year, got woman of the match in two games.
3. For the first time, we played with three women on the pitch. Normally, we stick with the mandatory minimum of two, but here in Nice, if you play with two women on, you start the game down one try. This was to our advantage a few times, but in the final rounds, when we played a team with one woman (down THREE tries) and they won, it felt like we’d been trampled.
4. Cambodia Flashback: After being told we weren’t playing again until after our hour-long lunchbreak, we all sat down with a beer and the free sandwiches and dug in – only to be called fifteen minutes later to play two games, back to back, to determine our place in the championship.
5. The beer may have benefited me: I scored a try in the first game and was given woman of the match, and scored a try in the second game. New strategy?
6. Other teams thought we were pretty cool for sitting around drinking beers on the sideline when everyone else was training. (We didn’t win, but hey.)
7. I met a girl from New Jersey. Whattdya know.
8. After we finished our last match, a grueling tie that went into a dropoff final, we felt the day had ended well and Anne, Nicole, Amber, and I showered off six hours of sweat and changed into clean clothes, feeling amazing.
9. Then we were called out and told we had another game to play.
10. Still, the day ended well, with every team getting a bottle of champagne, which we drank on the pitch while waiting for the dinner social to start.
11. Arriving home at midnight, exhausted, I managed to Google a Nice cab company and call and arrange a cab to the airport the next morning – all in French. The best part? It actually showed up.