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ColumnistsSarah Hames‘This was the present that kept on giving . . . rugby and romance in perfect harmony’

‘This was the present that kept on giving . . . rugby and romance in perfect harmony’



By Sarah Hames

4 February 2010

I recently endured, sorry, celebrated, what’s known as a ‘landmark’ birthday.  Sadly that landmark involved neither a ‘2’ nor a ‘1′ but a ‘3’ and a ‘0’.  Boyfriend was wondering what might be a suitable gift to mark such an auspicious event, and I would like to say that he came up with the following all by himself. But actually I did.

It occurred to me as we were snug in a pub, watching England in one of the autumn international rugby matches. In fact I believe on that particular rainy Saturday we were having our arses whipped by the Aussies; as the first match in the series, though, we remained naively optimistic.  Some quick investigation on the iPhone revealed that the England v Italy Six Nations match was to be in Rome, which always looks so lovely and sunny on TV, and that it would be played on 14 February . . . Valentine’s Day. (Reader, I may have cunningly kept this small fact to myself for the time being).

Some further research revealed that tickets were still available and – Bob’s your uncle – we were booked up before the Australian rugby team could crack open a celebratory tinny and pile into the bubbly team bath. (Yes, I know that they don’t have them any more, but never let Health & Safety get in the way of a girl’s ability to dream …).

This was going to be the present that kept on giving. Boyfriend happy. He gets to go to an international rugby match that we might actually win. He realises how lucky he is to have a girlfriend who would choose this as her perfect gift.  Me happy. Valentine’s weekend in Rome. Nuff said.

Needless to say I had to inform Boyfriend, eventually, that by some happy coincidence (!) we would be in this incredibly romantic city on the actual Saint’s day of some poor Christian martyr who is buried there, and has his own Day named after him . . . and . . . and he worked it out in the end.  Still, I think in the mindset of “Two birds, one stone” his joy was, thankfully, unabated.

As a sports PR I go to a lot of sporting events; some of the very best in the world in fact.  But I’m nearly always working so I have a degree of responsibility which tends to temper my enjoyment somewhat.  Watching great sport anywhere where I don’t have to carry a walkie-talkie is the ultimate treat.

Now Rome is not the cheapest city in the world, and I had a feeling that the combination of all those sickly fawning couples plus the swathes of England rugby fans might have done their bit to help keep those prices even higher, and supply very low. Unabashed I did some hardcore research and found a great hotel that ticked all the right boxes.  Gave details to Boyfriend so that he could book it.  At this point I was intrigued: how long would we be going for?  Fingers were crossed for a long, long weekend.

Boyfriend sat at laptop, concentrating deeply as he has to when anything involving the interweb is involved; emails were being sent.  A few moments later he smiled.  “All done darling, they have availability, shall I confirm?”

“Out of interest,” I asked, “. . . what dates have you gone for?”

He smiled somewhat smugly. He obviously thought I was going to be happy with his choice. “The 10th to the 14th,” he said.

“Right,” I replied, taking a slow, deep breath. “And why would we want to leave on the 14th?”.

“Well,” he said, confident, assured. “I thought it would be nice if we had a few days to do touristy stuff before the match, and then left the day after.”

“And when do you think Valentine’s Day is, exactly?” I enquired of my beloved.

“Er, February 13th, of course!” he replied.

Dear God.

Luckily he had not yet booked said hotel, and I managed to avert a disaster.

Apparently though, this only further proves his well-worn point: boys can’t do surprises. And on that I think, for once, he’s right.


  • James Dawe:

    Thanks Sarah – funniest thing I have read in a long time.

  • Sarah Lee:

    Amazing…Carrie Bradshaw meets Sue Barker.

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