5 Apr 2008 – Europe vs Rest of the World

star_warsEurope 27, Rest of the World 29
Europe Report – Steve Lewis, ROW Report – Joe Fisher

Europe 27
Tries: Ben Duncan (2), Grant Thompson (2), Tim Miller
Con: Steve Marcon

In the iconic movie “Planet of the Apes”, Charlton Heston gazes in horror upon a group of gorillas marauding amongst the wreckage of the Statute of Liberty and gasps “How could we let this happen?”. So too did the noble Europeans gaze in horror upon the celebrating Kiwis/Saffers/Aussies when a last minute penalty grazed the outside of the post to inflict a monstrous 27-29 defeat. For the first time in 4 years, ROW had won. “How could we let this happen?”.

In “Planet of the Apes”, the orangutans are the brains, the gorillas are the muscle and the chimpanzees are always missing in action. The parallels to the ROW Team were uncanny with the Kiwis as schemers, the Saffers as thugs and the Aussies failing to turn up.

The build-up to the game had been marred by a “dirty tricks” propaganda campaign of which Al Qaida would have been proud with Europe’s spiritual leader being dubbed “Darth Vicar”. Notwithstanding the unwarranted stain on the blameless Vicar’s character, he pulled himself together for a rousing eulogy to Gerry Hegarty prior to the traditional one minute silence.

Of course, Gerry was the greatest of the YCAC Europeans and the emotion of the occasion played its part as ROW scored two early tries: the first coming from Rob “Difficult To Believe, But Yes I Am Fatter Than Fraser” Evans who squeezed through a gap only marginally smaller than the Tasman Straits.

In the face of adversity, a tremendous break saw Ben Duncan speeding for the line. Who would have believed that this was an inter-club match as he was battered by an illegal challenge a metre from the line. The malicious assult would have merited a penalty try had not our hero bravely fought off the vicious monkey and planted the ball over the line. More thuggery was to follow as the gorillas (or Saffers) increased the skull-duggery: the nadir of which was a 20 metre sprint to knee a helpless European in the back. Such a dastardly deed would have produced a red card from any other referee but the Patient Vicar who held a brief confessional before restarting the match. The very same Saffer had to leave the field on four or five occasions to have blood removed from his face, but on closer inspection it was revealled that it was not his own blood but was instead that which he had spilt from the valiant Europeans.

The scores were evenly balanced at half time with just three points between the two teams, but the Europeans came roaring back in the second half with two fantastic tries by Grant Thompson after super interplay by Captain Tristan Fahy. Tim Miller also scored a brilliant try that was reminiscent of Ieuan Evans out-foxing David Campese in the wonderful British Lions test victory in Australia. Unfortunately, the memory of David Campese brought the worst from the ROW Team with Aussie Stallard not only breaking Windmill Jim’s finger in 4 places, but also repeatedly collapsing as the Europe side put on the drive at a 5 metre scrum. Joe “The Octopus” Fisher had his hands on the ball in ruck after ruck and the ROW whinging and moaning scaled new heights at whatever decision was given by the Patient Vicar. Indeed, two ROW players walked off the pitch in disgust merely because the Vicar blew his nose.

But despite all that had gone before, the most wicked influence was exerted by the Orangutan In Chief with five minutes to go. Don’t be fooled by the fact that he has shaved off all his hair because Rhino is definitely an orange-haired “Ranger”. With time running out, the Dr. Zaius of YCAC dispatched his evil spawn and name-sake (Ryan “The Ringer” Rogers) on to the field of play notwithstanding that The Ringer is a professional with Randwick who has never played for YCAC. Like Harry Potter in the presence of a Dementor, the Europeans shrank from the wicked force of The Ringer who scored the match-winning try with a minute to go.

With the hooter having blown for full time, the Vicar’s patience finally broke as the fourth pair of hands killed the ball at a ruck to concede a last minute penalty. The shot at goal drifted just wide of the post and thereby gave the Evil Empire the Panty Shield for the first time in four years.

Rest of the World 29
Tries: Rob Evans, Go Ito (2), Joe Fisher, Ryan Rogers
Cons: Mike King, Dean Stallard

On a beautiful spring day the great and the good of YCAC rugby came together for the Panty Shield, the final XV’s match of the season. The Panty Shield pits YCAC Europe against YCAC Rest of the World and is a memorial match played once a year in honour of club stalwart Jerry Hegarty. Last year’s fixture was a great match with Europe coming away winners 33 ˆ 29. With ROW players dominating the YCAC 1sts team this season there was some talk that this year’s fixture would be a slam dunk for the colonies. That was not how it turned out though.

One of the levelers was that ROW had their normal problems with people not turning up on the day. This is simply a feature of the amateur game and those organizing teams must accept that players do have lives outside of rugby and that these lives occasionally clash with rugby. (Neither Steve ‘The Vicar’ Lewis or I actually do accept this, but we know it sounds good if we say that we do.) However, for some reason the Europeans seem better at turning up than those from elsewhere. The full European contingent expected to play turned up on Saturday. In contrast, no fewer than five of the ROW players named on the Thursday before the match were not there for the kick-off. Some of these absences were unavoidable ˆ Steve ‘Big Cuzzy Bro’ Gray injured his calf while training with the Sevens team on Friday for example. However, some of the absences were totally avoidable ˆ rumour has it that Alex ‘Black Rose’ Curran was spotted in perfectly good condition late Friday night in a certain Tokyo ‘theme’ bar. One can only presume that something happened between the stirrup and the ground (so to speak) to render him unavailable for the match …

Prior to the match The Vicar gave a very good speech about Jerry Hegarty and the players observed one minute’s silence (which always feels longer than that). When the game did kick off it was the ROW team that dominated the opening phases. ROW’s first try came through Rob ‘Long Time No See’ Evans. A former winner of the prestigious ‘Fat Back’ award, Rob doesn’t look much like a rugby player, at least not a good rugby player. However, the hoary cliché that “looks can be deceiving” proved to be 100% accurate in this case and Evans had a storming match at inside centre. With Go ‘The Shadow’ Ito scoring the next try and Mike ‘Little Buddy’ King (somehow) kicking the conversion the ROW side opened up a sizeable lead and threatened to run away with the match. It was not to be though with the European side putting together a mighty comeback and getting themselves back into the match through two tries to Ben ‘Silver Fox’ Duncan.

The passionate nature of the game was demonstrated when, after scoring his first try, Ben decided to have a go at Jason ‘It’s’ Dunn for a perceived illegal tackle in the build-up to the score. (Both parties were quick to make up after the match and Ben was horrified to learn that Jason is martial arts black belt and former New Zealand representative.) Passions were also overflowing in other places with Gavin ‘Little Sambo’ Moolman playing under the ‘red mist’ for much of the first half and a feisty battle going on for the whole match in the eight-nine area where the two Kiwis (Joe ‘Altar Boy’ Fisher and Dougal ‘The White Serevi’ Robertson) were matched against the two Irishmen (Kieran ‘Communication Is What I Do’ Walsh and Willie ‘Mini Me’ Lapthorn).

After a half-time spent cooling brains and counting bruises both teams came back onto the field ready for action. Although ROW put together a second try to Go Ito and got a conversion from Dean ‘Fish’ Stallard it was the European side who came out firing with two excellent tries to Grant ‘Rolls Royce’ Thompson and one to Tim ‘Sport Billy’ Miller. Stephen ‘Hang Time’ Marcon also coolly slotted a conversion. These points enabled Europe to build a commanding lead of eight points and with less than ten minutes to play things were not looking good for the ROW side. However, like Europe in the first half, ROW responded when they needed to and Dougal and Joe managed to get the ROW side back in the game with a try coming to the latter after a good inside pass from the former. This cut Europe’s lead to three points and meant that the game was balanced on a knife edge.

At this point enter Ryan ‘Rising Sun’ Rogers. When a player with the build (and the tan) of a young Bobby Skinstad took the field at such a crucial moment The Vicar’s suspicions were immediately raised. He called ROW captain Fisher over and queried where this player came from. Vicar’s face noticeably fell when informed that Ryan is set to ply his trade for YCAC next season as the latest member of the ‘Adrian Bell Rugby Academy’ and the try that followed to young Rogers shortly afterwards seemed almost inevitable.

With this score ROW took a two-point lead with less than five minutes remaining on the clock. In a nervous final stanza Europe threw everything they had at the ROW side and with time up on the clock they were rewarded with a penalty (for hands in the ruck) within kickable range. A cynic would say that the referee manufactured this to allow his side a chance to win the game, but in all honesty the penalty was probably fair enough. (I can’t believe I just wrote that.) The European captain Tristan ‘Mr. Universe’ Fahy stepped up to take the shot. The kick was struck well enough but just drifted to the right of the posts. Game over. Win to ROW.

With five tries a piece and only tight forward conversions separating the teams it was really a match that neither team deserved to lose. That probably isn’t much consolation to those Euro-trash losers though! One thing that is clear is that this fixture is growing in stature each year and next year’s match promises to be a cracker.

Joe Fisher

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