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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Armistice Rugby Match in Richmond: Rugby for Heroes 45 - 41 French Legends

In a day commemorating 100 years since the end of the Great War, the world of rugby came together to remember their own Fallen.

An invitational Rugby for Heroes squad beat the French Legends in an Armistice Remembrance game.

Two minutes silence was held at Richmond Athletic Club, home of both London Scottish FC and Richmond FC. Both those clubs saw great losses during the war, totalling more than 160 players between them.

A lone piper welcomed the Rugby for Heroes and French Legends squads onto the pitch, then the buglers played over the tannoy system.

The hosts, Rugby for Heroes, kicked off proceedings but the first line-out went the way of the French Legends after an attempt to gather a tricky ball kicked by the visitors bounced into touch off the fingertips of the gathering Heroes.

The first points of the game came after a penalty was taken quickly by the hosts who were able to build up pace and slip through tackles to cross for a try; converted Rugby For Heroes 7 – 0 French Legends (3 mins).

The re-start ball was gathered well by Heroes however the French were quick on the chase.

The first scrum of the game went to the French on the hosts’ 22. The men in blue passed the ball with confidence and despite some thumping tackles from the defence, the French clawed back 5 points but were unable to convert the try (8 mins).

The hosts kicked long on the re-start and even though the French gathered well, an attempted chip through was blocked handing possession back to Rugby for Heroes. They piled on the pressure but quick offloading ended with a knock-on. This allowed the Blues to play advantage and clear their lines with a chip-and-chase approach. Down to the last defender, with a fast-paced French pack chasing, Heroes secured the ball and regained some lost territory.

After several phases of the ball being kicked and drifting into touch, changing possession frequently, the game settled.

The French found touch 10 metres from the Heroes try-line. The hosts defended their territory, securing line-out ball, and kicked for a chase downfield. Heroes piled on the acceleration and a lucky bounce found the ball land in the hands of the chasing pack who crossed for their second try of the game; converted: Rugby For Heroes 14 – 5 French Legends (15 minutes).

The French once again found themselves within metres of the opposing try-line but staunch defence saw them bundled into touch. Taken quickly, Heroes secured the line-out, passed long and started yet another attack. They pushed passed half-way before a loose pass and resulting knock-on handed a scrum to the Blues back in the host’s territory.

Possession was short lived as a loose pass of their own, destined for the far wing, went too far and rolled into touch. The following line-out, however, was messy for Heroes and pressure was piled on. In an attempt to force momentum on, the hosts failed to release the ball on being tackled and were penalised for a double-movement.

Despite this set-back, Heroes were quick to turnover the ball and chip over the defence, allowing for a perfect gathering at pace and placing over the try-line. Rugby For Heroes 19 – 5 French Legends (20 minutes). Unconverted.

The hosts were quickly back in French territory and chasing for their fourth try of the game until they were tackled into touch inside the 22. The French kept hold of possession and gained additional ground after Heroes were penalised for not rolling away.

The Blues charged up the field but it was the hosts who scored next with another breakaway. The French chased them down but even a last-ditch attempt at a try-saving tackle could not prevent the hosts from crossing the whitewash: Rugby For Heroes 26 – 5 French Legends (28 mins).

The hosts were definitely the team on the attack in the first half. Within two minutes of the last try, they found themselves deep in the French 22. The hosts were awarded a penalty and they decided to run with ball in hand. This ended up with a fumble and scrum to the French however the visitors only just made it out of their 22 before being forced into touch.

Patron and Captain of Rugby for Heroes, England world-cup winner Mike Tindall, had a moment to forget when he magnificently broke through defence only to drop the ball without so much as a Frenchman tackling or pressurising him. That was his final play of the first half, as he substituted himself head held low in shame or embarrassment; the supporting rugby crowd always keen to highlight errors.

Two minutes before half-time, the French scored their second try of the game but could not convert it. Rugby For Heroes 26 – 10 French Legends (38 minutes).

It was the turn of the Blues to have the momentum and no sooner had they gathered the re-start ball, they broke through the hosts’ defence. Heroes were then penalised for being offside, allowing the French to push up the field and cross for their third try of the game. This time they converted it, ending the first half.

Half Time at Richmond Athletic Ground: Rugby For Heroes 26 – 17 French Legends

The start of the final 40 minutes got underway with a strong French attack, earning a penalty which they took quickly, crossing for a try and conversion: Rugby For Heroes 26-24 French Legends (43 minutes).

More misery for the hosts then followed as a strong attacking maul gathering momentum went to ground, with Heroes being penalised. The French then knocked-on after securing the ball, handing a scrum to the hosts in the opposition half.

Another scrum to the French and another penalty (not rolling away). They kicked to touch for an attacking line-out, secured the ball, then kicked long. Too long for the French to chase, allowing for an easy clearance for the hosts.

The French Legends pulled themselves ahead: Rugby For Heroes 26 – 29 French Legends (52 minutes) with an unconverted try but the next play was end to end by the hosts – fast paced run along the far wing, a chip through, a fortunate bounce and the run continued over the whitewash for a converted try: Rugby For Heroes 33 – 29 French Legends (55 minutes).

Possession switched sides several times with tackles forcing balls into opposition hands. Play settled again after a scrum to the French just outside the hosts’ 22.

Play was, however, halted following a suspected head injury (57 minutes). The injured French player was able to walk off the pitch, being replaced for safety, before play resumed and very quickly the visitors crossed for a try, once again unconverted. Rugby For Heroes 33 – 34 French Legends (58 minutes).

Heroes gained territory, making it into opposition territory before a knock-on by the visitors handed them a scrum. The hosts retained possession but were penalised in a ruck allowing the French to find touch and secure line-out ball.

Possession was, however, short-lived as another knock-on handed a scrum to the hosts, adding to that a penalty allowed them to move further up the field for an attacking line-out. They secured the ball, passed it to the centre – a high tackle earning them advantage. It was not required as Heroes crossed the whitewash to the right of the posts but it remained unconverted: Rugby For Heroes 38 – 34 French Legends (64 minutes).

The French started to press again, helped by a scrum following a knock-on, but a few phases later and they relinquished possession to the hosts after being penalised in their own half.

Heroes kicked for a line-out , kept possession , passed wide allowing a straight run into the corner for the hosts. Despite the tight angle from the touch-line, the try was converted: Rugby For Heroes 45 – 34 French Legends (68 minutes).

The French were not going quietly and immediately gained ground. A high tackle handed them a penalty. They ran with ball in hand and crossed for a try, converted. With tired legs, the full-time whistle then blew, ending the game after 70 minutes:

Full Time at Richmond Athletic Ground: Rugby For Heroes 45 – 41 French Legends

Match Report: Natalie Osborne Photographer: Chris Spring
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 8:18 pm  

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