BRFC’s last match of the year was significant for two reasons. The first was the distinct chance it represented for the team to all but qualify for the end of year playoffs. The second, and slightly more heartwrenching one was that it was Dougal “henchman/stalwart/mr dependable” Henderson’s last game for the club.
He’ll be swapping a rugby ball for fruit in the new year as he heads back home to the land of kiwis, rings and dwarf throwing (that last one wasn’t a lord of the rings reference – ahem mike tindall ahem) to take over an orchard. To mark this momentous occasion I propose you do what we did at Saturday’s christmas ball and grab yourself a drink and take a swig any time Dougal’s name is mentioned. That’s Dougal. D O U G A L, Dougal.
The match on saturday was to be played up at Sevres, BRFC’s old stomping ground before they moved to the somewhat grassier pastures of Domont. Well known to those who have been around for a few years, including Dougal (drink), the pitch has a tendency to be frozen most of the time. Sure enough, both squads arrived to find patches of ice sporadically placed across the surface despite a near tropical December temperature. If it had been the Stade de France, the game would have been canned. Thankfully however the ice was soft and after careful inspection by the referee and lengthy consultation with Dougal (drink again), the expat captain, it was deemed playable. Game on.
The British boys were coming into the game off the back of two season defining wins against Thales and Bouygues. Sevres were stuck towards the bottom of the league but had amassed a large number of bonus points as they ran each team close. All signs pointed to a close run affair as Dougal (do you need reminding) kicked off.
It was clear from the off that Sevres would look to kick when in their half. This played straight into the hands of Manny “boubou child” Bouscasse, Ali “24.6” Donada and Louis “held-up” Corbic who began a game-long bossing of the aerial battle. The three lads gave BRFC instant forward momentum which was then sustained by the forwards – Dougal (yes, we are still playing) ensuring that the big runners were kept busy.
The expat boys came close after a neat little box kick from Luke “Nik Nak” Curtis bounced up nicely for an onrushing Louis. Sadly, the frenchman couldn’t punctuate his glorious, mid-air one handed take with a try as a defender came flying in and by some miracle managed to hold him up. The respite would be short lived however as from the ensuing scrum, Dougal ran a training ground move that sent James “surely you didn’t think that you’d get away with being called big jim because we are playing the Dougal game” Grieve over for his 87th try of the season.
Brendan hit home with a few truths at half time, saying that for all the posession and territory gained, the performance wasn’t good enough. The British boys had to turn things up a notch to put the game to bed – if not to finish on a high then for our good friend Dougal (yep, we are still playing in the second half).
Tristan “wrestlemania” Dubais, Max “mad” Jean and new rugbydump twitter feed hall of famer Liam Isaac stepped up to be counted, making some bruising runs up the middle whilst Nik Nak and Dougal pinned the opposition back with some astute kicking. It was Brian “father of bubba” Dodson who made the difference though with a typical running back play through the heart of the Sevres defence.
Stepping inside atleast three tackles he burst clean through the line and sensing some catching defenders fed Liam Isaac five metres out from the whitewash to finish off the try, much to the dismay of James Grieve with whom a try scoring competition has been started, presumably to show how much stronger and more handsome they are than everyone else. At 869 tries apiece this season their pompousness might be warranted but their form off the pitch, akin to England’s batsmens’ at the crease, brings this illusion of grandeur to a shuddering halt. Dougal’s kick for the extras hit the left post, leaving the scores at 15-3 for BRFC.
The British boys had the psychological high ground at this point as Sevres picked up further white cards for persistent infringing. Dougal took another shot at goal and this time hit the right post, making him the first man in history (probably) to hit all three in one game. The fact that he did so deliberately was even more astonishing – the man has the accuracy of an atomic clock.
Sensing the opportunity to put another bonus point in the bag, the British boys heaped on yet more pressure in what was becoming more and more of a sloppy showing due the conditions. Scrums were uncontested for much of the closing period for lack of front row replacements. Jon “many many girlfriends” Laidler was thrown in as hooker for the first ever time but swiftly went off after heavy contact with some oxygen particles forced his hip to give way. If they were to come away with the five points and with the clock winding down, the BRFC needed a wise head to steady the ship; a man of great experience, a rugby Gandalf as it were, someone who would be there when you looked to the east, at dawn on the fifth day. In stepped Dougal (drink).
For his last steps in the red, white and blue, the flying kiwi threw some dummies, made some carries and pin-pointed some passes to get his team to within 10 metres of the Sevres line. Finally, from an umpteenth ruck Dougal found James “big jim” Grieve who barged over for the score. With no more posts to hit, he proceeded to nail the conversion and put the result beyond doubt – 22-3.
The final whistle blew minutes later, sealing the expat’s fifth win of the campaign, their 6th place in the table and bringing the curtains down on the Dougal era.
It has been an absolute pleasure on and off the pitch and the BRFC family wish him all the very best for his fruity endeavours and look forward to the party he’s organising in June 2017.
On a traditional, final report of the year note, another spiffing Christmas ball was held at Christophe’s Bistro du Théatre following the win and always a few prizes were handed out.
We must therefore all extend our sincere congratulations to the recipients of this year’s captain awards:
Maxime Jean, James Grieve, Liam Isaac and yes, you guessed it, see it off,
Hope you are all sloshed!