Rugby is a rare thing with its ability to bring would be rivals together through a physical game and a fondness for beer and occasional gratuitous nudity. The afternoon of the 7th of May had all of this as a crack team of SHMEDs who had been begged, borrowed and bribed by the now former DoR hosted a touring team of Manchester Medics at Norton. Despite having played them earlier in the season on both Away Day and GASMs, the lads were unsure what to expect. There was a quiet certainty that we would hear about how sick Warehouse Project is, how a mate of a mate had been stabbed (or at least threatened with a sharp object) and how PBL is the best way to learn. This last one is perhaps the least believable of the three but as to what kind of team would turn up the jury was very much out.
Once Manchester staggered into Norton it was clear that (to use the old adage), their drinking team had a rugby problem. It transpired that they had braved Corp the night before, a bold choice but one that drew no sympathy from the SHMEDs boys despite the warm conditions. Knowing the hole their opposition were in relaxed the Sheffield side and the warm up was an incredibly casual affair, in fact to call it a warm up is a little generous as the only thing really practiced were drop kicks. In a Shakespearian twist, Causer not wanting to relinquish his DoR crown decided to divert a misplaced kick into Coxy’s gentleman’s region, sending him crashing to the floor. Perhaps the fact that the kit provided by the new DoR had not been washed since Old Boys and so smelt only a little worse than Chappers chat was the final straw for Causer but either way, this was attempted regicide and quite amusing. Due to the lack of kit and keen to unleash his ‘Dad bod’ on the Mancunians, Large Naan advocated playing in skins however when it was established that Wiff was in fact languishing in bed and not in Birmingham as feared, a red number was brought instead.
The game kicked off with Mad-Dog officiating and for the first 15 minutes at the very least saw some decent rugby, with the teams trading blows before Sheffield scored through a decent break. After this, things did begin to deteriorate. The reasons for this were numerous but the truth is that when the opposition front row are still swaying and smelling like one of Manchester’s many tramps, it is only to be expected. The scrums quickly went to uncontested and then to games of fives, with Jindoe demonstrating his love of a high five a little too much. That being said the open game meant that there were some good individual moments with Causer, Wiff and Barwell (in his questionable choice of a baseball cap) using some good footwork to go forward.
Coxy having initially been sceptical at the point of his involvement grew into the game and managed to break down the touch line when he really had no right to off one of the more creative line-outs, many of which involved dabbing. One obvious moment of controversy came towards the end of the first period (we won’t call it a half as there was no real time keeping) as Manchester broke into the 22 of Sheffield and the covering the defender (*cough*) stuck a paw out to try and intercept the off-load (he claimed) whereas all he ended up doing was batting it down. This action drew a yellow card unsurprisingly and unfair claims were levelled at the offending man (*cough*) that all he had wanted was a breather. Instead of the penalty try that could well have been awarded Manchester kicked for the corner but the SHMEDs (now down to 15 men…) held them out.
In the second half Mitchell volunteered to take over refereeing from
Lishmann having finished his 10 minute break (if you hadn’t worked it out earlier). There are lots of words that could be used to describe his performance; perhaps the fairest assessment is that he was consistent but consistently shit. Anyway the game remained an incredibly open affair with some good moves from both sides. That being said players were beginning to flag and the rugby was becoming a little too loose so it was decided that the next score would be the winner. It was at this point a Manchester man made a break to win it but his side suddenly wanting to play more rugby so the man turned around and ran back the other way (much to the dismay of the Sheffield side...and the now beleaguered referee). Wiff then took it upon himself to seal the victory, slotting a drop goal from a good 40 yards much to bring about handshakes and some quiet beers by the pitch.
As games go this was not even close to a classic, with an emphasis on flair and socialising instead of proper Yorkshire rugby. This was probably down to the state of the Mancunian side and the weather as it is now well beyond the end of the actual season, a fact highlighted by the cricket being played on the top pitch. Nevertheless this was a good excuse for one final run out, albeit a very casual one and most importantly SHMEDs got the win (such that it was), proving that this is still the best side of the Pennines.