May 30, 2023

The Pumas pounce again!

I was unable to get to the first match between the PUMAS and the UNIQUE NOMADS on what for them was a great day with brilliant weather, and the wish to remember their late teammate, Nedim İlkay Demirtaş.

Sunday 18th October, the second match, set the scene with dark skies threatening the inevitable and when I walked onto the pitch at Alsancak both teams were warming up and were very clearly hyped up for the battle of wills and skills to come and you could feel the tension as I walked past them to the stand.

The Pumas were there in a cluster and they were growling,  the only other fiercer thing found perhaps on a rugby pitch is the New Zealand Team’s Haka.

To add to the pressure, suddenly the skies opened and a deluge came down which caused everybody to scamper to the top of the stand leaving only the players to face up to each other in the fierce rain.

So the battle commenced with the PUMAS driving forward time and time again against the UNIQUE NOMADS and spectators were saying “These guys have really upped their game and have come back wanting to win”. So that was the way it was throughout the first half and into the second half of the match with two very closely matched sides pressing each other with bruising clashes and of course a few stoppages for  injuries but the game went on.

Right up to the very end of the match, the Pumas were pushing to close a small points gap but as it happened, in the final minute, they could not claw back points to get a draw or even a win and they finished just four points down.

Tired but not unhappy, the Pumas formed two lines and saluted the Unique Nomads as they filed through and then in turn they responded in the same manner to the Pumas. It was really great to see so many smiles and hugs after such a hard fought game.

Speaking to Richard Bradley, the Pumas coach after the match, he said of the Unique Nomads “these guys have been training hard and came back wanting to even the score. It’s a shame we had to impose the “unopposed scrums” rule again, which means the teams are not allowed to push in the scrums. The Unique Nomads had an inexperienced front row and it would have been dangerous for our guys to push forward in the scrums. We also had a few members suffering minor injuries which disrupts the flow and tempo of the game.

Both teams played very well and at the end of the day we were only 4 points down which is a disappointment but everybody played in the spirit of the game.  “The secret of the game is when the first whistle blows the battle starts and when the final whistle blows they are all friends again”.

With those final words I recalled the team motto on Facebook “Who Tries Wins” and realised it’s such a fine line to success which is influenced, at the end of the day, by a number of factors that are hard to control but it’s all about mental preparation that will win through.

I recalled again seeing the Pumas growling at each other as they clustered together in a circle before the start of the game and I was reminded of the New Zealand Haka that perhaps typifies individuals and teams who are so finely tuned mentally that reaches that crescendo of readiness with perhaps that warrior spirit coming through as well.  If this thought makes you want to learn more click here, to see the New Zealand All Blacks Haka vs the Fijian Cibi and you may experience what I experienced.

By Chris Elliott

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