Friday February 8th saw the return of veterans rugby to Wrexham Rugby club. Ruthin provided the opposition and much to everyone's disappointment, they took their work slightly too seriously.
The evening began with Wrexham's 40 strong squad assembling over a range of changing rooms as friends old and new mingled in the clubhouse. A minutes silence was held for those who had left life’s field too early and when the whistle went - it was time for Wrexham to teach Ruthin a lesson. The lesson that Wrexham were most keen to teach was “How to lose a rugby match” and this lesson was shown to Ruthin over the course of the 80 minutes.
Today's Wrexham first team is based around a mobile pack with a lot of flair and pace in the back line. The Wrexham sides of yesteryear traditionally had a huge pack who would be watched by their supporting backs. Friday night saw the clock roll back and Wrexhams heavy forwards competed hard while the backline struggled to break through. Alas Wrexhams heavy pack was up against Ruthins gargantuan pack. The night was a tale of big Ruthin runners, particularly their number 8, making hard yards while the man of the match winning scrum half orchestrated the backline. None of the game’s quarters were a rout, but Ruthin achieved and maintained dominance throughout the game.
As a Wrexham player I have no interest at all in documenting all Ruthins stinking tries but needless to say each one was riddled with errors that even a blind referee could see and the bias shown by the man with the whistle could only be attributed to corruption of the highest order.
Some highlights of the game included a masterful reverse pass from scrum half Ross Roberts, a handoff from the Ruthin number 8 that resulted in Keir Harding getting altitude sickness, a reverse cross field kick from Ross Roberts that went at least 10 yards backwards and a masterclass from big running Scott Davies in how to be caught in possession. Ruthin’s Johnny Davies was exemplary at taking big tackles.
At the start of the game Wrexham were meticulously organised by manager Brendan O’Malley, by the end of the first quarter his input had evolved into “sort yourselves out” and the entire squad standing on the field, leaving one by one until there were only 15 left. It was suggested that this is not how Warren Gatland does it.
Ruthin scored 6 tries but kicked like mules so were only able to covert 3. Late in the 4th quarter Wrexhams Darren Jones found himself in the rare situation of being in space with massive helping of pace in his boots. His speed took him from the Wrexham 22 to the Ruthin 22 where a well timed offload allowed the Wrexham backs to experiment with not dropping the ball and Andrew Ankers crossed for Wrexhams first and only try. Luckily for Wrexham a brief conversation was held before the game and it was agreed that “last try the winner” would be the order of the day. In that respect it turned out to be an emphatic victory for Wrexham and it’s a shame Ruthin had travelled all that way for nothing.
Wrexham coach Alan Jenkins was on the sideline scouting for new talent. He said “Well tonight has been a total waste of my time. They’re all so old. I’m running a bloody rugby team not a sodding nursing home.”.
There were over 100 people watching the game and perhaps more heartening than the action on the field was the change in Wrexham RUFC. The bar was rammed and remained so until late in the night. For the first time in years the players of today mixed with players of Wrexhams history. Old wounds began to be repaired. Wrexham stalwarts such as John Roberts and Gareth Noon may have played for Ruthin, but at least they were back in the club. As it was announced that Womens rugby was returning to Wrexham and Callon Lan echoed around the club it was striking how much the club had changed in only a few months. Wrexham vets squad will now begin the process of munching pies and downing pints ready for the next fixture. Regardless of the score Wrexham took something priceless from Fridays game.
Standout performances came from Paul Edwards, Darren Jones and referee Rich Morgan.
There are many people to thank for allowing Friday to happen. Firstly we extend a huge thank you to Andy Edwards, Russ Penryn-Jones and all the Ruthin players and supporters. At Wrexham it could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of Sion lloyd-Jones, Becky Pomeroy, Gareth Lewis, Denzil Brockhurst, Brendan O’Malley, Roger Holloman, Andrew MacGregor and Wrexham sponsors AAG who are forcing Sam Warberton to come to Wrexham!
Updated 22:11 - 10 Feb 2019 by Gary Williams