Veterans’ friendly

Rugby Lions V Newbold Veterans Rugby Lions RFC, Webb Ellis Road. Words by Alistair Bruten.
Rugby Lions V Newbold Veterans Rugby Lions RFC, Webb Ellis Road. Words by Alistair Bruten.


Rugby Lions 17

Newbold Vets 14

Well the festive spirit wasn’t altogether in evidence after the heavy frost and then the heavy rain relented to allow this bragging rights derby game to go ahead on a good if energy-sapping pitch.

All I mean about festive spirit missing was simply the commitment of both sides who were not going to lose if they could help it, and this made for a very worthwhile game to watch.

The sides had contrasting resources issues.

Newbold have an abundance of players looking for a game in their combined 3rds/Vets league team so there were plenty of men available when this vets game was arranged.

And even more so when Bold’s 2nd team fixture was called off at lunchtime.

When, an hour and a half before kick off, I found someone to ask, Rugby apparently had three definite players.

Most of the Newbold 2nd team went off to their 3rds/Vets league game at Manor Park with about four boosting their club’s ranks at Webb Ellis Road.

Somehow, under Mark Griffin’s calm organisation, Lions players arrived until, with about four temporary recruits kindly supplied by Newbold, both sides were ready to go in front of some very welcome regular attendees at these Rugby revival games.

And they will have been as pleasantly surprised as I was to walk into a clubroom with all the tables decorated with table cloths, festive balloons and Christmas decorations, two very attractive Christmas trees and a prize draw hamper full of good things.

It looked great and it is worth just mentioning some of the people behind all the behind-the-scenes matchday clubhouse and dressing room work who include: Ron, Eric, Janet, Fred, Kath, Julie, Steph, Martin, Geoff, Brian, Steve K, Steve T, Guy, Griff, Keith.

In prospect and on the basis of the early exchanges, Newbold looked the more likely winners but the first 20 passed with some threatening moves by both teams but with no scores.

Then, just into the second quarter, Bold scored a converted try only to be pegged back four minutes later by Rugby’s try out wide for 5-7.

Just before the interval, Rugby scored another unconverted try to go into the break a slightly surprising but well deserved 10-7 up.

The match was marked by a succession of injuries but also by the way the players concerned after receiving some attention from physio Guy King almost every time picked themselves up and got back into the game, one or two of them showing real guts to limp along time and time again when a boxing referee would have stopped the fight.

The second half was a level of feistiness above what had gone before.

But not only do the veteran players on both sides know how to shake off injuries, they also know where to draw the line and the result was a captivating game with lots of skill and total commitment. And this was in no way diluted by the fine efforts of the younger players on both sides, even when a few were playing against their own club.

Early in the second half, Rugby again surprised the crowd by extending their lead with a fine try whose conversion took them 17-7 ahead.

The game was well refereed and even if there were a few words exchanged after one extended ruck, there was no hot-headed behaviour to spoil the spectacle.

Into the final 20 and Newbold tightened the game again with their second converted try under the posts for 17-14.

Bold were then sensing a possible victory and only a few handling errors cost them further scores, enabling Rugby to run out narrow winners.

One spectator said to me on the final whistle that perhaps a draw would have been a fair result.

I knew exactly what he meant but these players would have had no truck with any hint of a result based on effort and the actual score was all that mattered to them, that one team won and the other team lost.

n The Rugby club website ( reports that there was to be a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) of Rugby Lions and a representative of the Warwickshire RFC for a provisional discussion of the situation of the club in the light of their expected application to re-join the league structure for next season.

We will forward any outcome when it is known but this is likely to be a preliminary comment rather than anything concrete at this time.

Rugby will be able to point to having already successfully participated in five games this season but what is likely to be most important will be the evidence they can offer to the county’s RFU nearer the end of the season that they have completed the required minimum number of games with more regular fixtures being played in the last weeks of the season and evidence that there is a core of players being recruited to establish a squad of a standard for the following season.