After picking up two wins in a row on the road, BRFC returned to the familiar pastures of Domont in the quest of keeping their unbeaten league streak alive. Standing in the way this week were fellow FFSE newcomers, Nawack RC. The ESSEC old boys had made the switch from the “folklo” leagues and after a narrow two point victory over the Kudu’s, they too were looking to push on in the quest for the FFSE Top 14. A tasty match was in store, then, on a chilly winters afternoon at the Stade des Fauvettes. Following a brief inspection by monsieur l’arbitre, the firm pitch was deemed playable and it was game on!
Well, when I say it was game on, the BRFC lads were chomping at the bit to get going. However as they went back into their changing rooms to don their white jerseys, their opponents were just arriving at the ground. The game finally got under way half an hour later and the expats were keen to show that they don’t like to be kept waiting.
The fired up BRFC forwards piled the pressure on their tardy opponents straight from the kick off. Some unrelenting defence related in an early penalty opportunity for Alex “Deserter” Barker in his last game for the British. As he has done so often in his second stint with the club, he nailed the chance to give his side a 3-0 lead after only a few minutes. The visitors would subsequently struggle to get into the game, remaining camped in their half for a while. Things were about to get worse for them as the BRFC got an early stroke of luck from a line-out. Said line-out was thrown by Alessandro “Why Always Me” Donada although the ball didn’t quite find it’s intended target. Fortunately for the opportunistic Italian the ball bounced back into his arms and he managed to bury his way over the line for the first expat try of the afternoon. The tough touchline conversion was missed by Barker but the BRFC had themselves an early 8-0 lead against a team that hadn’t yet left the starting blocks.
This early British onslaught managed to rouse the visitors and the boys in white began to get a taste of what they would be in store for the rest of the afternoon. As the Nawacks began swinging the ball from left to right the BRFC forwards started to forget the pre-game instructions. The big boys were over-committing to rucks in an attempt to win turnovers, however this over-eagerness resulted in the Nawacks having space outside. A simple backs move combined with some good pace lead to the visitors opening their account with a try under the posts which was duly converted bringing the score to 8-7.
A second penalty would be added by Alex Barker before a superb second BRFC try of the afternoon would be added. Despite the game beginning to lull into a tactical arm wrestle, Constantin “GAS” De Langautier would snap up an offload and go galloping 40 metres in order to dot down calmly. For those of you who do not know him, Constantin is a lanky second row but the Nawack defence is able to testify as to his surprising pace. The conversion was missed but BRFC were now up 16-7.
The match was beginning to heat up both on the scoreboard on the pitch. After some absolutely disgraceful simulation from the Nawacks number 6 following an insignificant altercation with the smallest man on the pitch, Nick Sanders, the opposition flanker hit the deck like he had just received a right hook from Floyd Mayweather. He clearly wanted to emulate his professional compatriot, Yoann Huget but instead got a stern word from both the referee and his own captain. A few minutes later and it was BRFC on the wrong side of the no-nonsense referee. On the stroke of half time, Ed “Ginger Ninja” Wrigley was deemed to have lashed out at an opponent and was shown a yellow card as a result. After deciding that they did not want to do anything with the subsequent penalty, the ball was booted into touch and both teams were able to calm down and head back into their respective camps. Half-time score – 16-7.
The message at half time was globally positive however the BRFC boys were once again reminded not to contest the rucks as this had cost them dearly in terms of penalties and defensive alignment in the first half especially seeing as how they would be playing the next 10 minutes with 14 men.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the ex-pats had a dream start to the second half. A well taken kick off was recycled to Constantin “Usain” De Langautier. Remember him? The lanky second row who outpaced the opposition backs to score in the first half? Good, because he did it again. After collecting the ball deep in his own half, the pacey Frenchman set off on another impressive untouched run to the try line. If there were any doubts before as to who was going to be Man of the Match, they were now dispelled. Another missed conversion brought the score to 21-7.
After this unanticipated turn of events, the Nawacks answered back with a try of their own of which I remember very little. My hearty apologies. I do however seem to remember that the visitors profited from some dubious BRFC defence. The conversion was made bringing the score to 21-14.
With their tales now well and truly up, the Nawacks came back fighting although not literally this time. Well, not yet anyway. Some sustained pressure in the BRFC half lead to the classic situation of the expats being consistently penalised at the breakdown, allowing the visitors to march up the pitch. At the fourth or fifth time of trying the Nawack maul began rumbling towards the British line. In an attempt to stop the onslaught, the maul was collapsed and the referee headed off under the posts to award a penalty try to the men in black. The dubious try was converted bringing the scores level at 21-21. With 20 or so minutes left in the game, the BRFC found themselves in a precarious position, not for the first time this season as you avid match report readers would know.
The tight nature of the game meant that play would barely venture out of a 20 metre channel in midfield for a good 10 minutes. This was until Dylan “Bru” Hansen, also playing his last game for BRFC, made one of his trademark bursts. Unfortunately, a poor footwear choice saw him slip over as he made his way into the Nawack 22. His team-mates where there to support him, however, and the ball was recycled to Brian “F**k Yeah” Dodson who managed to step around, over and under some flailing defence to give his team back the lead. The conversion was finally made and BRFC had a 7 point lead going into the last 10 minutes. 28-21 to the hosts.
At the risk of wanting to sound repetitive, the last 10 minutes of this game were spent defending, defending and defending. Just like last week, the week before and the week before that. As you will surely be aware by now, this is something that the expats do rather well under pressure and this week was no exception, even taking into account the exclusion of Ben “The Original Hipster” Darras for what was deemed to be a high tackle.
The solid BRFC defence was a source of constant frustration for the Nawacks who were attempting everything they could to salvage a draw. These frustrations soon boiled over and a couple of “handbags” were swung. The referee decided that the visitors were at the origin of said handbags and showed a yellow card to one of them, much to the anger of the culprit. Despite this, he somehow deemed that the Nawacks should get the resulting penalty (no, I’m not sure either) and the pressure came straight back on the BRFC line. Luckily enough for the men in white, as the Nawacks were edging closer and closer to the tryline, a forced pass went wayward and dribbled into touch signalling the end of the game. Final score 28-21.
So, 3 wins in 3 for the BRFC in CorpoD2 and still unbeaten in competitive matches since September. Although the expat boys made it difficult for themselves, the same character and spirit that they have shown over the last few weeks saw them through, which means they sit top of the league with 13 points from 3 matches. A months break now follows but training is still going to be going on in order for us to hit the ground running again come the 7th of March when we take on old FFR rivals Société Générale at Domont. Here’s hoping that this unbeaten streak will continue long into the future!
On a final and less happy note, this game saw the last appearances in a BRFC jersey for Alex Barker and Dylan Hansen who are both heading to the UK. In the brief time that these two have been at the club, they have had a huge impact on the sporting and social life of the BRFC. We thank them for all of their hard work and their epic banter! Good luck, boys!
WE ARE BRFC!