For the second year running, the OWBA rugby team welcomed the Barnstaple Barbarians. Two, one game a year teams, who once on the field, show the same level of skill, pace, passion and fitness as teams playing week in week out…albeit, for only 45 minutes!
The magnitude of the event was too much for some. The Barbarians sustained a few early drop outs, leaving them with 13 men to walk out onto the field, that being said, their average age was still quadruple that of the Old Boys. So in true West Buckland spirit – we begrudgingly lent them a few of our players, including myself.
As the teams lined up, they looked evenly matched. The light-footedness of the Old Boys offset by the size of the Barbarians. However, less than five minutes in, an unnamed old boy who’s name rhymes with Joe Pastie, delivered a loopy miss pass, straight out of the passing school of Mr Angus Calder, right into my hands. I was in two minds; score a try against my old school or ‘accidently’ knock it on…in these hesitant and indecisive times it is hard to not take heed of Mr Tucker’s resonant piece of rugby advice “if in doubt kick it out”, but true to form, Tucker was ignored, and the old boys were 7 points down.
The heads of the younger team took a visible drop, a drop that did not go unnoticed by the wise Barbarians, who had been in this situation many times before on their unfathomable number of trips around the block. They stepped up the aggression level with an unforgiving lack of compassion, most probably fuelled by the harsh memory of their unrelenting thrashing the year before by the Old Boys.
After a few heavy hits and turned over scrums, the converted Robert’s brothers, Sam and Panda, started to find gaps in the Old Boy’s defence – gaps somehow big enough for the Barbarians captain Russ Copsey and mid-life crisis prop to centre convert, Phil Gordon, to ‘glide’ through. The onslaught continued through the rest of the first 15 minute period and into the next, with tries from a number of Barbarians who prefer to go by the names of Barbarian 3 and Barbarian 8.
The final 15 minutes saw a few Old Boys come to life. Robbie Hume darted passed a number of Barbarians, including the ever slowing Jason Slade, to score under the post with a late conciliation try. This only fuelled the Barbarians desire to have the last laugh, with Matt ‘the steam roller’ Giblet locking his sights on the ex-English Lambs player Sam Roberts, who had switched back to play for the Old Boys; trampling him into the ground as he crossed the line for the final try of the game.
Despite a strong defensive effort from the Old Boys, including Josh Singh, Jono Slee and Oscar Carter-Burns; the physicality of the Barbarians proved too much, and the Old Boys succumbed to a 40-7 defeat. Last year the Old Boys provided a lesson in pace and quick hands; this year was clearly the year of the Barbarians, who ironically schooled the old boys with their tenacity and aggression.
‘Diolch yn fawr’ to the referee, Mr Chris Allin, who kept the game flowing and in good spirits. I look forward to playing against you next year.
So, that’s one a piece – gather your troops looking to turn back the years Russ, lessons have been learned and next year the Old Boys will be looking to take the lead once more.