For this year’s fun and frolics we took the squad down to Berkshire. We left a still but overcast Ledbury at 8am, lads bags bulging with Haribo and Coke, dads bags bulging with Neurofen, Immodium and Gaviscon.
Our Saturday activity was Dragon Boat racing under the tutelage of two talkative Great Britain Dragon Boat racing coaches. After a few introductory races with mixed teams we divided into dads and lads boats for the main events. According to the lads it was close, but the lads pipped the dads. However, once you’ve factored in the extra rowers in the lads boat and factored in the Guinness and Pie Coefficient, the dads won comfortably and don’t let any of the lads try to tell you otherwise.
Saturday afternoon was spent at the fantastic facilities of Maidenhead RFC watching six nations rugby. Maidenhead have a great club. They have a 4g pitch, astro turf and lots of grass pitches. Facilities plush enough for the wine and champagne chiller behind the bar to be almost unnoticed, but with the kind of friendly and welcoming personnel you tend to get a smaller club. We watched the rugby and worked on the Guinness and Pie Coefficient. Following the rugby it was back to the hotel for more work with Guinness and Pies (you’ve got to work at being an athlete) and a chill out before bed and Sunday’s game.
Sunday revealed one or two sore heads, but after the exertion of Dragon Boat racing the day before, more dads were walking like they weren’t sure whether the taste in their mouths was last night’s Guinness or Rohypnol. A full English put the world back together and we made our way back to Maidenhead RFC.
The going was firm which suits our boys and although the swirling wind can spook them they seemed suitably numb from the activities and lack of sleep. The game began in bright enough fashion with impact runners bending if not breaking the opposition defence, but the patience shown was fantastic. They moved the ball across the pitch and back again, probing for holes and pulling the defence apart, claiming their reward with the first try.
The leveller from the opposition was a wake up call. Indiscipline gave them the ball 10m out and quick thinking and quick feet put them level. Ledbury pushed to get back into the game but were judged to be pushing too hard and had a short but difficult spell with the referee, unable to get themselves back on top legally. They showed fantastic maturity to work with the referee and adjust their game and were rewarded with a second try for their endeavour. Not to be undone, the home side applied some of their own pressure and once again indiscipline gave them a 5m lineout from where they gave Ledbury a lesson in how to form an unstoppable maul. The ref blew for half time and an end to a frenetic first half that had seen some great rugby and one or two spectators sweating 40%ABV.
The second half was a little slower as both sides had worked each other out. The home side put their noses in front and once again Ledbury drew level. The game was being played tightly enough that you felt it would be down to mistakes and so it came to pass. A high ball was allowed to bounce and Ledbury were first to react, streaking away and dotting down in far too flamboyant fashion. Now it was the home side who couldn’t get back into the game legally and after many infringements their 8 saw yellow. Unfortunately Ledbury couldn’t capitalise and some sloppy defending allowed the home side to pull level, ending the game on a fair draw in terms of tries scored.
It’s always nice to see the skipper go over as his work rate is second to none, but a maiden try for Bay and two for Henno after his frustration the week before were just as pleasing. MoTM as voted by the home side was George, who was given the opportunity to shine by quick clean ball from team mates and took the opportunity well.
After chicken and chips, court was held for those tourists who had flouted tour rules and generally annoyed adults. They were all found guilty and punished as appropriate, so with that business concluded it was back to the coach for some ride-home-rosé and coach karaoke.