BRFC vs Gitan Olympique WB

11 - 29
Full Time


Île de Puteaux
6 Allée des Sports, 92800 Puteaux, France




by Ben Swift


For their 7 th league game, the British Rugby Club of Paris hosted Gitan Olympique at Puteaux. In a
game best described as a tale of two halves, the Expats dominated the game in the first half only
to succumb in a difficult second half.

From the first whistle, the BRFC put Gitans under pressure. Their opponents were forced to
repeatedly clear the ball in an attempt to exit their half, and when a British lineout in the Gitans’ half
gave the expats an early opportunity to go on the offensive, they repeatedly dashed the Gitans’ line
probing for any weakness in their defence. This pressure came to bear fruits when the Expats forced
an error in the opposition half and were given the opportunity to kick for the posts. The successful
conversion by scrum half Nick Sanders put the British ahead by 3 points within the first 6 minutes of
the game.

As the game kicked off again, Gitans came back with something to prove and drove at the Expat
defence repeatedly without finding holes to probe. Strong tackles, including by fullback Agustin
Albornoz, ensured the attackers were kept out. Yet Gitans ultimately got their own opportunity to
kick for the posts to level the score at 3-3. The BRFC squad came back strong, pushing up
tantalizingly close to the Gitans’ try line but coming away with another kick at the posts. Another
successful conversion put the British ahead at 6-3.

At the 25 minute mark, the game moved into a more attritional phase. Strong performances in the
lineouts were key to maintaining the British attacking effort and strategic kicking put pressure on
Gitans. Another penalty conceded by the expat squad gave their Gallic opponents a kick for the posts
but this went wide. Yet as Gitans built some momentum, a freak weak shoulder in an otherwise
sterling British defence allowed the opposition fullback to break through and score against the
British. With the try converted, the score stood at 10 – 6 for Gitan Olympique.

The British responded immediately. From the kickoff they pushed into the opponents half, recovered
the ball and then proceeded to put pressure on the defence. After a few phases of attack on the 5
meter line, a chip down the blind side by fly-half Emmanuel Bouscasse into the try zone was
recovered by the British fullback who touched down. The conversion kick may have bounced off the
post but the British had taken the lead again with the score standing at 11 – 10 to them. However,
the Expats refused to let up. A few minutes after their try, the BRFC outside centre JB Lazime broke
the line and chipped over the heads of defenders for a recovery by the expat scrum-half. While that
particular phase of play came to nothing, at the close of the half the BRFC were evidently a team on
the hunt for a win.

As the second half got underway, the British maintained their attacking spree, repeatedly turning
the ball over and countering Gitans’ attacking phases. For their part, the French side repeatedly
attempted to go wide to test the British defence on the outside. This strategy paid off when their
wing was given just enough space to slide through and put the ball down in the Expats try zone. At
the 50 minute mark the British were chasing the score which stood at 17-11 To Gitan Olympique. 5
minutes later the Gitans’ 13 touched down after the ball went wide. While the conversion was
unsuccessful, the French side found itself in the lead with the score at 22-11.

These first 15 minutes heralded a shift in dynamic for the game. The British were faced with the
challenge of a larger opposition squad which was able to replace players more freely and bring on
fresh legs. On the field this meant that, while they were able to set up some good attacking play, the
Expats also found themselves repeatedly defending against a more confident opposition.

The Expats may have been chasing their resolve was never broken. At the 65 minute mark they set
up on the opposition 5 meter as the BRFC forwards repeatedly battered the Gitans’ line but were
unable to convert that pressure into points on the board. Ten minutes later they were still pushing
the Gitans’ defence without being able to find a gap. It was only in the last ten that the French were
able to score again out wide. The try was converted and the score was set at 29-11 to Gitan
Olympique at the close of the game. The British will be particularly aggrieved to know that the result
does not seem to adequately represent the closeness of the game but the season is not yet over and
there is still time to get things right.