Saying Goodbye is never easy, and perhaps it is even more difficult in light of what the world has gone through over the last 14 months, if the pandemic has taught us anything it is the importance of friends and family in our daily lives.
Any city that has a beach called the cat’s bottom (Kattrumpan), must be pretty special, the city in question is Kalmar the home of Victoria Petersson, situated alongside the Baltic Sea, it is one of Sweden’s most beautiful.
Her rugby journey started due to a chance meeting at a party, and following game time at university, and local club Kalmar Sodra, she found herself jetting south to leafy Surrey, at the tender age of 22, to join Harlequins.
When I first met Vic it was very evident that she displayed a maturity beyond her tender years.
She spoke in perfect English about life and rugby, with her wonderful modesty and a smile as wide as the Oversund, she has not surprisingly been one of the most popular members of the Harlequins Women’s squad.
Settling into English life like a duck to water, she had the difficult task of learning to cope without her mum’s potato and leek soup, but with a little cajoling from a certain Welsh journalist,she discovered the delight of Welsh cakes, an able replacement to Mum’s speciality, and on the plus side my home country’s economy has taken a dramatic upward turn thanks to her consumption.
Matchdays became a double bill, Saturday night Scandi dramas on the BBC were preceded by Swedish afternoon thrillers courtesy of the Kalmar Killer, who never took any prisoners on the pitch…absolut!
Sunny summers of Sevens with the Swedish national team kept her looking very sharp when returning to pre season training, having a smorgasbord of talent and the ability to play fly half, centre and wing meant she was an integral and versatile part of Harlequins Women’s drive for success.
At the top of her game in early 2020, the cruelty that is so often administered by the sporting gods struck.
The Swedes are no strangers to the power and unpredictability of Norse gods, certainly the thunderbolt that hit the Quins number ten early in the second half of the match against Bristol Bears, could have come from Thor himself.
Whilst attempting a “jackal” at a breakdown, Vic suffered a hamstring injury that ripped two tendons off the bone, left one hanging off, and the remainder descending five centimetres.
I have seen players with a similar injury carried off the field being given oxygen, Vic stood up and was helped off, they breed them tough in Kalmar, the agony etched on her face was almost too painful to watch.
Former England World Cup winning coach, Gary Street, talked just before the injury about how superbly Vic was playing, she was in the form of her life, bossing the game, organising those around her, the silken running and perfect timing of the pass were getting better and better game by game, the worse possible time for the sporting gods to strike.
I have watched some pretty special players over the last fifty years and all the very good ones appear to have more time on the ball than those around them, it is as if they operate in another dimension of time and space, Vic is a member of that exclusive club.
Following surgery Vic endured a long and demanding rehab, never one to feel sorry for herself, she poured her heart and soul into it, and that sunny smile never diminished. I have met few people better at turning a negative into a positive than the speedy Swede.
“Av skadan blir man vis” is a Swedish saying that roughly translates to, Adversity is the mother of wisdom, and Vic finally emerged from darkness into the light last Saturday, to wear the Quins shirt for one last time, against Gloucester-Hartbury, in the Allianz Premiership, 406 days after that horrific injury.
Swedes often say “Borta bra men hemma bäst” which literally translates as “Away is good, but home is best”, and it has now come to pass that Vic, after the briefest of comebacks, is heading back to her home.
Thank you Vic for coming into our home, for decorating the place, and leaving it a million times brighter than when you arrived.
As you leave these shores with all our fondest wishes, you have provided us all with a box full of wonderful memories that we will treasure forever.