Worcester hold no fear fear for daredevil BucklandBy Alan Manicom
February 05, 2010
James Buckland once parachuted off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
So the prospect of packing down against Worcester Warriors in the LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup tomorrow will hold no fear for the London Irish hooker.
Base jumping is one of the world’s more dangerous recreational activities. The sport involves parachuting off fixed structures.
Buckland said: “I did it once off the Golden Gate Bridge when I spent some time in San Fran, working with the Navy Seals in a past life. It was a great experience. Good fun.”
The bridge’s towers stand 746 feet above water.
But Buckland’s early-morning leap was over so quickly that he recalls very little about it.
He said: “It was like being in a wind tunnel and was over in a flash.
“It was a long way down. I had my eyes shut so I didn’t notice how far. I was about 18 or 19. Crazy.”
Researchers have estimated that for every 60 base jumpers, one ends up dying. Not the best odds.
And Buckland recognises that London Irish’s chances of surviving in the LV= Cup are even slimmer.
To top their pool and qualify for the semi-finals, Exiles need a bonus-point win at Sixways, coupled with an unlikely heavy defeat for Scarlets at home to Cardiff Blues.
Even then Gloucester could still pip Exiles with a big win at Harlequins.
The fact that London Irish are without numerous key players tomorrow due to injuries, international call-ups and suspension further reduces their prospects.
Buckland is nevertheless eagerly anticipating a feisty match up front.
He said: “I’ve never been to Worcester and had an easy game in the forwards.
“They are always a very physical, well drilled side and I’m sure it will be a very stiff contest.”
Exiles will at least take heart from the way they scrummaged in their last game in the competition, last Sunday’s 16-13 home defeat by Quins.
Buckland said: “We have been working very hard trying to get our scrum back up to a level where we want it to be.
“We’ve put a lot of time into it and it was quite satisfying to get a good return for our efforts because Quins are no mugs in that area.
“A lot of weeks we work very hard and probably don’t get rewarded in that area as much as we’d like.
“But last week we gave the backs plenty of good ball and got a good couple of penalties and were often able to get good momentum off it.
“We do not want to be one of those sides that just use a scrum as a restart, we want it to be in our favour and put the other team under pressure so we are quite pleased.”
Referee Martin Fox must have come close to awarding a penalty try last Sunday during a succession of scrums in which Quins were persistently penalised.
“We certainly asked the question,” said Buckland. “If it had been down to me I would have given it. But obviously it is the ref’s decision and what he sees on the day.
“We just need to keep working hard and make it really obvious that we are on top and if the infringements come, we hopefully get rewarded, but at the end of the day it is down to the ref.”
Nowadays 28-year-old Buckland is happy to keep his feet on the ground, indulging his love of horses.
Had he not been a professional rugby player, his career might have taken a different path as a farrier or blacksmith.
After training on Tuesday he was rushing off to attend to a sick horse.
He said: “I have a Cleveland Bay at home. I have to change his dressing because he has a poisoned foot, and I have to muck out before it gets dark.
“He was a hunter in his day and is a happy hacker now. He is an old lad, but a good old boy and has done me a good service so I have to look after him.”