After a four week hiatus, the BRFC boys were finally back in competitive action when they took on the XV de la Pinte in the quarter finals of the FFSE Cup. I know what you are thinking: “Cup quarter final?! But what happened to the other rounds?!” Well, quite simply, they never happened. 2 forfeits in a row meant the expats sailed into the quarters without even touching a rugby ball. However, despite the lack of rugby action a lot of work went on behind the scenes in order to understand the situation, find out who our opponent was and find somewhere to play! A huge thanks to Manny “Vice PresiLAD” Bouscasse for handling all of the above.
Anyway, back to matters in hand. The BRFC went into the game knowing they were about to face one of their biggest tests of the season. The XV de la Pinte are currently sitting 3rd in the Corpo Top 14 having scored 43 tries and conceding just 15 in 11 matches. This being said if there is one thing the British boys aren’t scared of, it’s a pint! The challenge was accepted, then and fittingly it was the pint-sized Nick Sanders who the game underway on a dusty, unmarked pitch…
The game started positively from an expat point of view with most of the play happening in the opposition half and after an early game of kick tennis, the hosts found themselves penalised just outside their 22 giving Nick “Twiglet” Sanders the opportunity to open his account for the day. An opportunity which was duly snapped up to make it 0-3 to the visitors.
The opening encounters managed to spark La Pinte in to life and the big opposition forwards started to rumble the ball up. As they did so, the BRFC boys began to infringe around the breakdown and a familiarly unforgiving referee gave the hosts the chance to make their way up the pitch. A rolling maul was set up just inside the expat 22 which was not dealt with in the habitual effective manner by the British forwards. The maul trundled on and eventually bundled over the try-line. The extras were added making the score 7-3.
The first try of the game left the boys in white a tad shell-shocked and mistakes were made as they tried to reply to the hosts score. The hosts were also eager to build on their lead but their attempts to end the game early were scuppered momentarily by some heroic tackling from Anthony “Flo Rida” Wynne who was putting his head into problems all day long (to quote the Honey Badger himself…). Unfortunately, despite these heroics, the second score of the game would once again go the way of the hosts as they spread the ball quickly from a shortened line out to score in the opposite corner bringing the score to 14-3. Things were not about to get easier for the expats as a carbon copy of the first try meant the score was 19-3 before too long. Just to add insult to injury Joel Smith was shown a yellow card for what looked like trying not to get into a fight. Luckily his opposite man was also given the same treatment and both teams would finish the half with 14 men.
The scores could have been a lot closer at half time following a well read intercept from Manny “Slow Motion” Bouscasse although as his nickname suggests, the expat centre lacked the pace to get to the line. As he tried a sneaky round the corner offload, the ball went to ground and the opportunistic attack was snuffed out.
As half time came around the expats were reeling from the opening half encounters although their pint based opponents looked significantly worse for wear. The expats subsequently found themselves with two choices. Either they could crawl back into their shells and accept the hiding that was on the cards or they could stand up and be counted and show the world why they had just won the 2nd division. Fortunately, they chose the latter.
The expats knew they needed to score first in the second half in order to keep the game alive and they did just that thanks, once again, to the boot of Nick Sanders who landed a penalty to bring his and his teams tally to 6 points. The smallest man on the pitch then decided that he hadn’t finished yet and set off on a trademark darting run after a quick penalty. The oppositions forwards faces lit up at the prospect of breaking the expat scrummie in half but Sanders had the last laugh as he stepped the big boys inside out and drove his way over the line for the first BRFC try of the afternoon. Not happy with that, he then added the extras as well to drag his team back into contention. 19-13. During a strong spell for the expats, another penalty was slotted to bring them to within 3 points of their hosts. Want to guess who kicked it? Yep, good old Sanders!
By this point, the XV de la Pinte had grown sick of Sanders and decided that they wanted to play rugby too. The game was reaching boiling point with a place in the semi-final at stake. The hits were flying in and after one ruck too many, tempers boiled over and an unsavoury brawl broke out. It wasn’t really clear who or what started it but the referee needed a scapegoat and so, in front of his entire family, Ben “Mayweather” Darras was called over and shown a red card along with his punchy partner in crime.
With only 14 players on each team, space was bound to appear. Unfortunately for the BRFC boys, the hosts would be the first to profit from this space and another unconverted try was added to their tally. Once again, the expat boys found themselves underneath their posts with the score at 24-16 despite arguably being the better side. They now knew that a lot of spirit and character was needed in order to save the day. Spirit and character was just what they subsequently showed and some good line out work from the forwards gave the backs a good platform to launch several attacks. Unfortunately, mistakes at crucial moments meant that the visitors tally would not budge. This was until Joel “The Rig” Smith managed to power his way over the line. Infuriatingly for the expats, the referee’s position meant he couldn’t see the grounding and thus the try was disallowed. Had their been a TMO to refer to, he would have confirmed the legitimacy of the try. Alas, the scoreboard remained untouched.
Finally, the Man of the Match Nick Sanders managed to evade defenders as only he can and dot down for a well deserved BRFC try. A quick conversion was added by the main man himself who had single-handedly dragged his team to within a point of their Top 14 opponents. 24-23 with only a handful of minutes left.
The BRFC boys had their tails well and truly in the air and set about chasing the vital score that would propel them to glory. Unfortunately the high reward nature of the game meant that it also came with high risk. As the BRFC were driving towards the line the ball was knocked on and gathered up by the Pinte who did not need a second invitation to head up the other end and score a try with the last play of the game. The pointless conversion was added to bring the final score to 31-23. The deception on the British faces was hard to conceal after having come so close to a cup upset. Despite the disappointment the words from Captain Curtis and Coach McCann were positive and huge credit was given for coming back into the game and not laying down without a (literal) fight.
So, the BRFC cup run ends here meaning that the boys are now free to focus on the upcoming play-off semi final. One thing that was said after the game is that maximum commitment is needed from absolutely everybody in the next couple of weeks in order to achieve what we know we deserve. Please be sure to answer Brendan’s emails promptly and make sure to make yourselves available for Thursday trainings and most importantly for the 20th of June.
Eyes on the prize, boys…
WE ARE BRFC!