To say the day was full of adventure would be an understatement as 14 Evergreens do themselves and the club proud.
Waking up in the morning as did half the squad hung-over after Brathers’ 50th celebrations the night before was probably not the best way to prepare for what would be at least two hours of competitive Rugby. But never the less we headed off to Windsor with 15 players not knowing what the day would have in store for us. Bumping into Loydie from the Heavies and hearing him proudly proclaim that they had 30 players in tow just after I heard that Mark Cannon broke down on the way so reducing us to 14 players wasn’t the news I wanted to hear.
Nevertheless each and every one of us just shrugged our shoulders and had the attitude from the off that we were there to play good Rugby and enjoy ourselves.
Our first game was against our old mates from Weybridge Vandals who still haven’t changed that ball up the jumper with the fat boy’s style of rugby. With only seven Evergreens contesting the scrum as we were still waiting for John Ronane to show, they pushed and pushed and still couldn’t break us. We made a few handling errors in loose play that they capitalised on which allowed them to score a couple of tries in the first half.
The second half with John R in the breach was a much closure contest which saw Eric scoring a try after our backs and forwards put together over eight phases of play allowing him to score in the corner. Unfortunately a couple more handling errors put Vandals out of reach and having Dereck Zornes pull out with a torn hamstring didn’t help things. As like with all the teams that day (except Overton…who I will come to later) they had a large squad of players and were constantly rolling subs on and off but we made sure that they knew they were in game and didn’t make anything easy for them. Importantly we still had a happy but knackered team.
After only a 10 min rest which was spent nursing bumps, cuts and bruises up next where the host team Windsor ready to face the mighty Evergreen 13! To say they were on the rather large side would be an understatement so again tactics like the Vandals game would be quick ball to the backs, forwards clearing out the rucks and recycling ball to the backs etc. Everyone was fired up and we had at least 60% of the possession but silly mistakes fatigue and with a few injuries starting to really hurt we were starting to spill balls at those critical times. With a forward line bigger than what Georgia or Romania would ever have to offer we started to get pushed back in the scrum which led them to scoring most of their tries. The last five minutes was the scene of our very best Rugby of the day and probably season so far with Adrian Hobbs scoring his long awaited first try for the Evergreens. Not only did he finish it but he also started it with a magnificent pick up from a hotly contested ruck a slick pass to Ben Hesketh who went through a gaping hole in their back line with Hobbsie continuing to support picking up the pass that brought him that try… Celebrations all round but unfortunately we had finished last in our group but knew we had played the best Rugby.
After over an hour of hard Rugby behind us fatigue was really starting to hit in but with fellow strugglers Overton RFC who were due to play Marlow also short of players and nobody else really wanting to lend them players, Eddie Beck, Mark Rutherford, Ben Hesketh, Brathers, John Ronane (JR), Hobbsie put their hands up and simply said no problem we would be happy to help out. AMAZING the real spirit of Rugby!
With Overton RFC who had only 11 players and with the mighty Evergreens 13 starting to drop like flies we decided to combine forces and become Overling RFC for the last game against what I suspect was an over 28’s team from Reading Abbey. Fired up and knowing this was going to be our last game and wearing the blue of Overton we put our battered and bruised bodies into the breach one last time smashing the young boys from Reading in the scrums, rucks and with Eddie B leading the back line we felt in our hearts we could beat them hands down. To our frustration they just simply had more gas in their backline and each and every time they had a pick up from their 22 they just simply ran the length of the park and scored. A stern word in everybody’s ears including our new friends from Overton we managed to gave them no ball in the second half and scored two well taken tries one from a much focused JR who took a loose ball from a line-out and smashed through for his score.
When the final whistle went, I didn’t see one disappointed Evergreen player moaning about the games we lost or how injured they felt but an Evergreens 14 who fought all day, worked for each other and will always remember the experience they had at Windsor Vets Tournament 2011.
Gentlemen it was an absolute honour to play with each and every one of you and I can only apologise for not having more players. I’d also like to thank Weekesy, Clarkey and Ricky for bandaging and watering us for what was a truly memorable day, Thanks Boys.
• Eddie Beck – Brilliant
• Mark Rutherford – Brilliant
• Adrian Hobbs – First try finally
• David Brathwaite – The Bull
• Brendan O’Flaherty – Battered and bruised
• John Ronane – Brilliant
• Dyll Davies – Gets better with age
• Jim Cox – Last game was 15 years ago… Brilliant
• Nicola Bazzan – Italy’s new Scrum Half
• Eric Battista – Italy’s new Full Back.. they need one
• Ben Hesketh – Played both in the forwards and backs- Brilliant
• Dereck Zornes (injured) – unlucky but made the difference while he was on
• Rahim Virani – Best propping ever in an Evergreens shirt
• Stephanie Maillfaud – The Evergreens’ answer to Chablis