The BRFC Paris squad is still to taste defeat this season after overcoming a powerful PORC (Paris Olympique Rugby Club) side 19-8 in Bobigny.
This was secondary news however to the abomination experienced by the players in the changing room before-hand – a tale that has to be brought to light before any rugby can be covered.
As the team kit was customarily handed out before hitting the field, it became apparent that a shirt was missing. It wasn’t a shirt in the high twenties, nor was it a blank. Those would have gone unnoticed. Sadly that shirt was the number 13, a shirt that should have been donned there and then by Dave Cook. Instead, it shall forever be known as the shirt that vanished and Dave ran out wearing number 24.
Word is, it was mistakenly left in a bag headed south and there have since been reports that it was seen in Argentina. In its place, a lonely ROSE was left, presumably the calling card of a serial shirt thief***.
To take our minds off it, let’s get back to the rugby.
The game was labelled a potential banana skin for the expat side as the corpo league got back to action after a prolonged, weather induced break. As Nico Dolo put it in training “every team aspiring to win the league has to go through PORC (followed by several expletives)”. Fortunately the boys brought their skewers.
The beast put up a fight however, showing some forward grunt right from the first whistle. It had been a while since the BRFC had been dismantled by a rolling maul – the blitz “d” doing wonders against far heavier sides – but when PORC began rumbling and rolling from just outside BRFC’s 22, there was only going to be one outcome.
None of the British forwards attempted to collapse the pink tsunami. As tremendously sportsmanlike as that may been, it ultimately resulted in a quick-fire five points for their hosts. After two minutes, it was already time to wake up and smell the bacon.
Play was rocking from touchline to touchline as BRFC attempted to get a grip on the game. The back three of James Ritzema, Manny Bous and Will Stoner had their work cut out as the opposition frequently went for the kick. All were assured in their defensive efforts however, on a cold but sunny (not for long) afternoon, running and buffeting the ball back time after time.
It helped establish the expats’ territorial domination and this soon turned into points. The first three came from a long range penalty after the first of a series of high-tackles that blighted the game. The next seven came from a familiar face.
PORC’s full-back had begun the game brightly but quickly found himself slumping into the darkest of mares. With confidence waning after a number of wayward clearance kicks he still attempted an audacious chip over the BRFC backline defence.
Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t Nik Nak defending but the tall figure of Dave “BIG dog” Cook who simply picked the ball out of the air and ran through to touch down between posts, allowing for an easy conversion to take the score to 5-10.
A few minutes later the same man was carded for a scuffle, his day going moving swiftly from bad to worse. He was sadly accompanied by Nico Dolo, who suffered the actions of a ref attempting to calm things down. With numbers still even, BRFC continued to maintain pressure and just before half-time had another penalty go their way. The score was 3-13 at the break.
It was clear that whoever scored first in the second opus would bag the game’s momentum.
Things took a long while to unfold as both teams clattered into each other for long periods without actually gaining that many metres. PORC were the first to emit signs that they would crack first, with some poignant Jake Laddychuk carries doing the brunt of the damage.
They soon conceded a first kickable penalty which ricocheted off the side of the post into the arms of that 15, who’s day was about to evolve from worse to frankly embarrassing when he failed to touch the ball down in his in goal area. Brian Dodson, who had cleverly followed up the kick, pounced, tackled and forced a knock on – the man he porked was left squealing like his house had just been blown in.
The resulting 5m scrum came to nothing but the pressure was mounting and another penalty quickly followed. As Bentos prepared his second run up in as many minutes the heavens opened, with hail, and whilst the ball looked good from the tee, it stopped mid-air as the conditions swept against it. The score remained the same.
For a few minutes, conditions became deplorable but the BRFC boys stuck at it and just when the sun reared its head again something magical was pulled out of the bag.
Liam Isaac made the first incision off the back of a ruck, 20m out from the PORC line. Rumbling forward he was taken low leaving his hands open for a “Sonny Biiill” (offload) to Jon Laidler who then mimicked his team-mate with an equally brilliant one-hander to captain Joe Bough.
Joe was brought down a metre out but was able to roll and reach over the line for the oh so crucial score. The conversion was missed but the expat boys found themselves at a safer distance of 13 points – the score 3-18.
It was then a question of building upon the momentum to bring home a coveted bonus point. There would be none though as PORC upped the ante to try and get themselves back in it. The BRFC collective (man of the match was awarded to the team as whole) stepped up to deny their hosts any meaningful territory until the final whistle put an end to what was still a good roasting.
The expat boys now find themselves top of the table, after HEC’s postponed game put all the teams on nine games, and now move on to play ACBB on Saturday. Expect fireworks.
***Most definitely not a reference to recently departed outside centre Ben Rose who now resides in Buenos Aires.