Small Steps And Giant Leaps

After six months of rugby darkness they emerged blinking in to the sunlight.

Like pit ponies arriving above ground, the fans, around 2800 of them, looked slightly dazed and bewildered as they queued for hand sanitiser and to have their temperature assessed at the gates.

We all wondered when this day would come, at times we wondered if it would even come at all.

The classic saying that even the longest journey starts with a single step fitted yesterday’s occasion at the stoop perfectly.

Six months ago we would never have imagined a rugby crowd all wearing face masks, these were the things we saw far Eastern travellers wearing at Heathrow and Gatwick, much to our amusement.

Soberingly we no longer laugh, the masks have become as much of a must have attachment as our mobile phones.

There was an atmosphere of mixed emotions yesterday, as Bath faced Harlequins in a match that was used as a government trial in crowd reintroduction.

At last this felt like a proper rugby occasion, and as everyone gradually relaxed it felt like we had never been away.

What a joy and a relief to be able to smell that freshly cut grass, the sound of boot on ball, but you also detected a slight hint of nervousness in the attending legions, and understandably so.

Even the weather put on its Saturday best with warm patchy sunshine, it was late summer at its finest.

After Quins bright start Bath gradually gained control, and long before the second half the West Country side were well in control, and never looked like losing.

Blondes have more fun, and a paroxide endowed Rhys Priestland stood out for Bath. His 21 points from the boot, and his orchestration of the backline, reminded us just how good the former Wales fly half can be.

But ultimately yesterday was about something much bigger.

After all that has happened over the last six months, to walk away from the Stoop in the warm sunshine with like minded folk, felt very special.

With a big apology to Neil Armstrong this was one small rugby step, but for many of us it was a giant leap.


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