The first outing for the BRFC Paris in the FFSE 2nd Division was a successful one as the expat boys picked up their first bonus point win of the calendar year against a strong XV Léopards side. This week saw another tough game against Kudu in Paris, a side coming off the back of a narrow defeat to the Nawacks, BRFC’s next opponent. The confidence in the BRFC camp was high and the words bonus and point were being thrown around the away dressing room of the Stade Carpentier before kick off. These words were quickly to be forgotten, as you are about to find out.
For the second week in a row the expats found themselves playing under lights on a pristine 3G pitch and so a quick and powerful start was the order of the evening. From the kick-off, a good chase from the forwards meant that the ball was spilled by the opposition receiver. A sign of things to come, perhaps? The resulting scrum lead to some hard lines being run from the backs and a penalty from the resulting ruck. Less than a minute into the game and BRFC had the chance to go in front via the boot of Nick Sanders. The relatively simple chance was missed by the dinky scrum half and Kudu was able to clear their lines from the resulting 22 drop out.
Some poor handling in the backs handed possession back to the men in green and yellow. The hosts did not waste their first opportunity of the game and a series of quick ball allowed them to march up the pitch. A mismatch in the midfield meant the Kudu winger was able to break free and head in under the posts. The conversion was made meaning the expats were down 7-0 after less than 5 minutes. If they weren’t before, the BRFC boys were now aware that this was going to be no walk in the proverbial park.
After being under the cosh for the first few minutes of the game, the men in white needed to come out fighting. Luckily, they did just that. Some big carries in the forwards saw the team push up the pitch and when the Kudu defence strayed offside from a ruck, Nick “Slippery” Sanders was on hand to make up for his earlier miss. The little man took the penalty quickly and darted through a jagged defensive line to dot down for his teams opening try of the day. Unfortunately, the man of the moment couldn’t back up his try with a conversion meaning the score was now 7-5.
Things would begin to calm down after a frantic first 10 minutes as both teams would fight to keep possession. The BRFC defence would be the first to crack during this sequence, however, and after a few missed tackles, the same 10 and 14 combination that was responsible for the home teams first try would swing into action again leading to an almost identical try. The conversion was duly made and the visitors were subsequently 14-5 down. Not having been in this position for a long time, the expats would need to show immense strength and character in order to keep their unbeaten league streak alive.
The first step in the “strength” category came with the long awaited return of the BRFC’s resident big man James “Super Sub” Grieve. The imposing Geordie managed to sure up the BRFC defence with some big hits during a sustained period of Kudu pressure. His impact was felt in attack as well as he made a barnstorming run up the right wing. The resulting offload was knocked on but some good back row pressure from the subsequent scrum meant the clearance kick was charged down. They say that fortune favours the brave and Bryn “Mutton Chops” Davies was on hand to testify to this as he scooped up the bobbling ball and went over the 2nd BRFC try of the evening. With Sanders having been sacked from kicking duties, captain Manny “BouBou Child” Bouscasse took over the responsibilities and slotted the conversion in front of the posts. 14-12 and the BRFC were right back in the game, albeit thanks to a stroke of luck. The scoreboard remained untouched until half time.
The second half picked up where the first had left off with possession going backwards and forwards between the two teams although the half time introduction of Brian “Saturday’s a Rugby Day” Dodson in the centres gave the BRFC some more attacking prowess.
10 minutes passed before the score changed, this time in disfavour of the BRFC. A penalty was awarded against the expats and the Kudu kicker made no mistake with his shot at goal meaning the British trailed 17-12. However, the boys knew that they were not out of the game just yet and that they had roughly half an hour to turn things around and after a strong period of possession. As it happens, turn things around was exactly what they would do.
Again, excellent pressure from the BRFC back row meant the ball was spilled on the try line. The crowd were convinced that the British boys were back on the score sheet but the scrum was awarded. After a couple of crash ball phases the ball made it’s way out to the right wing where it was held up. As the ball was recycled Nick “MOTM” Cook, who had been everywhere for the whole game, was on hand to bury his way over the whitewash. The conversion was missed by Bouscasse but the expat boys had drawn themselves level. 17-17. Game on!
Moral was boosted even further as Luke “Loose Canon” Curtis arrived after having gone through hell and high water to get to the ground. The club captain had come straight from Gare du Nord following a school trip in order to give his mates a helping hand as they went for glory. Hashtag clubman.
The game would remain tight for a while as both teams were cautious not to throw away a platform from which they could go on and win the game. The British boys would be the first to take the initiative as the game moved into the final 10 minutes. A strong run from Jeremy Lamri bought the expats into the opposition 22 and some good disruptive work at the ruck by the forwards lead to an attacking scrum. A simple backs move saw the ball land in Big Jim Grieve’s hands and, well, you probably know what happened next. The big man used his strength to power through a couple of tackles and he went in for the try, to the delight of his team mates who had worked their socks off to get into the attacking position. The all important conversion was made by NikNak Curtis and the expats had a 7 point lead going into the last 5 minutes.
Rather predictably, the BRFC would spend the rest of the game camped in their own 22 as the Kudu’s set about trying to salvage a draw which would actually have been a fair result, judging by how the game had played out.
I mentioned earlier that fortune favours the brave. The BRFC were extremely fortunate as the floodlights went out just as the referee had blown for a penalty for the hosts. A five minute break ensued as someone scrambled around for enough coins to put in the metre, during which both teams did their best to keep warm and remain focused on the task at hand. It was time for the BRFC defence to front up, as they have already done plenty of times this season.
As the lights came back on, there was another stroke of luck for the expats as the Kudu kick did not find its’ intended touch and the ball was subsequently booted away. However, the men in white were not about to get a let off as a second wave of attack came in resulting in an attacking penalty. This time, the touch was found. Some excellent defence at the line-out meant that the rolling maul was never allowed to get going.
You will no doubt be becoming familiar with the term “heroic defence” as I seem to use it every week. This week is no exception as the forwards managed to win a superb turnover on their own line. The ball was cleared although the Kudu had another attacking line out. A messy tap off the top was not properly dealt with an the BRFC had themselves yet another turnover, which they used in their favour to boot the ball away from their line again. This time the hosts could not find a way back into the BRFC half and an extremely tense last 5 minutes were brought to a close.
2 games and 2 wins then, although this was the first time in a while that the expats had really had to work for a victory. Full credit to the Kudu’s for providing an excellent game of rugby, even though several buttocks were being clenched right up until the final whistle!
The stage is now set and everyone is aware of the challenges that are still to come. Next up for us is a return to the familiar pastures of Domont, where we host the Nawacks on the 7th of February. Bring it on!
WE ARE BRFC!